Tag Archives: Psalm 137

Lend a Hand—in a time of change (28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C)

Reading
Jeremiah 29.1, 4–7

 

Sometimes, when I look at where I am in life, I wonder how I got here. I could never have predicted when I was a young boy growing up that one day I’d be a minister in a church that I’d never heard of, a church that didn’t exist yet. I couldn’t imagine that I’d be living in a place on the other side of the world, where my birthday was in winter and Christmas was in summer.

I couldn’t have dreamt that most of us would have phones even better than Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone. I never imagined that the smart phones we now have would have more powerful computers than those that guided the moon landing in 1968.

I couldn’t have dreamt that my daughter Erin would come to me when she was a little girl and ask my if I played with Blu-tac as a boy. When I told her that we didn’t have Blu-tac when I was a boy, she straightaway asked me if I played with twisty-ties. I had to tell her there were no twisty-ties when I was a kid either. I felt so old.

I couldn’t have dreamt that the pace of change would be so fast that you now hear twenty year-olds saying, Back in the day…

It’s not all light-hearted, though. I couldn’t have dreamt in my wildest nightmares that I’d be living in a time when 97% of climatologists tell us that climate change is real, and that human activity bears a great deal of the responsibility.

I couldn’t have dreamt I’d see the largest displacement of people from their homes in world history. That’s what we’re seeing in Syria right now as people flee or are driven from their homes. The World Health Organisation has called this the worst ongoing humanitarian crisis on earth. According to The Atlantic magazine:

Four million Syrians are internally displaced; with homes either destroyed or unsafe, they have moved to temporary housing within Syria’s borders. Another two million have now fled the country, pouring into neighbouring countries at a rate of nearly 6,000 every day.

Those of us who went to the Holy Land in April heard something about this while travelling through Jordan.

No one knew how true it was back in 1964 when Bob Dylan sang The times they are a-changing. But then, I doubt he did either.

We don’t all ‘do’ change well, so what do we do when the times are changing? Hide from it, embrace it, go with the flow?

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Caught up in something greater—Lent 5, Year C (17 March 2013)

Readings
Isaiah 43.16–21
Philippians 3.4b–14
John 12.1–8

Christ is among us—

God is doing a new thing!

Another Sunday in Lent, another wonderful passage from Second Isaiah, who wrote when the people were in Babylon, forced into exile for life away from Jerusalem, where their homes were demolished or in ashes.

Their life as a nation was over. The Babylonian armies had conquered. The Babylonian gods had won. It was in this setting that Psalm 137 was written:

How could we sing the Lord’s song

in a foreign land?

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,

let my right hand wither!

Isaiah’s message cut across this sense of doom.

I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

What new thing was God about to do? This is how Isaiah puts it:

I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

Much earlier, God had brought the people out of slavery in Egypt. Then, God had made a dry path through the waters of the Red Sea; now, God would make a river to follow through the dry paths of the wilderness.

God was doing a new thing, and drawing them into a new story. No longer would they only be people delivered from slavery in Egypt—they would also be people delivered from exile in Babylon.

God was doing a new thing; God has been doing new things ever since.

The story of Mary of Bethany is the story of a woman who found that God was indeed doing a new thing.  Continue reading

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27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 3 October 2010)

Singing forgiveness songs


Reading:
Psalm 137

The Bible pronounces ‘blessedness’, or happiness, upon a number of people. The Bible says,

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted…
Blessed are the meek…

Such wonderful and lofty thoughts! But the Bible also says:

O daughter Babylon, you devastator!
Happy shall they be who pay you back
what you have done to us!
Happy shall they be who take your little ones
and dash them against the rock!

Blessed are the meek…Blessed are they who dash your little ones against the rock.

That the Scriptures call ‘happy’ those who kill babies in such a barbaric way is a horrifying thought. And today we said, ‘The word of the Lord—Thanks be to God’. So we need to look at it carefully. What was happening there? How is it the word of the Lord to us?

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