Psalm 137:1-6: By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land? If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.
This is a Lenten season like no other!
This is a time of participating in and experiencing church in ways as we never have before. This is, spiritually, a different and difficult age.
There was a time long ago when the people of God were carried away from the land which God had promised them, and to which they had marched toward for generations. It was the place where their Temple, which was built to be the special place for God, was destroyed. They became captives for the second time in history and worked as slaves for a king with a strange name, who worshipped an idol who required behaviors that were not just uncomfortable, but distasteful and immoral to them.
I sense, when I read The Old Testament, especially in the prophets like Jeremiah, that the easy way would be to yield to the powerful and godless forces that controlled their lives. The temptation would be to “go with the flow.” And some of them did. Perhaps it was the feeling of spiritual isolation that caused the Psalmist to lament, “How can we sing a song to the Lord in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4) Because things were different, that Psalmist could not sense the presence of God in the places which were different and less comfortable. It took the spiritual wisdom of other Psalmists to recognize that, wherever they are, God was already there.
If we think about it, as much as we miss the community of faith, as different as “doing church” in a new way has become, God is still with us, and that is reason enough to “sing the Lord’s song.”
Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, help us sense that you are with us here, today, and that we have a song of praise to sing. AMEN.
Reverend Dr. Regi Thackston
Trinity UMC Pastor Emeritus