Strangers in a Strange Land: The Church in an Age of Exile
The buds on the trees and lengthening days remind us that spring is just around the corner! And with spring comes the penitential season in the church calendar called Lent, a significant moment in the life of the church that prepares us for the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter.
This Lent, the worshipping community at First Pres will grapple with the concept of exile: the experience of being displaced from what is familiar, and plunged instead into an experience of feeling unsettled, uncomfortable, out of place, or even far from God. This type of experience might sound familiar. Too often, it seems, we face seasons of unrest and displacement in our own lives. In that experience of wandering and unrest we are not alone. Scripture highlights God’s people’s experience of exile most dramatically in the stories of Israel’s 40-year wilderness wanderings, and Israel’s captivity in Babylon.
Increasingly, it seems that the cultural moment in which the American church finds itself is one of exile. The familiar, comfortable existence within American culture that the church may have previously experienced has been stripped away. All around us are currents that draw us toward a life embedded in the culture of modern-day “Babylon” – a hostile culture that embraces greed rather than generosity; performance rather than humility; influence and power rather than hospitality. This Lent, we will consider how our own experiences of exile can be used by God to form us deeply in the patterns of His Kingdom rather than the patterns of “Babylon.” And exile, as we will discover, may not be something we should try to escape from; rather, like God’s people before us, we are beckoned to settle in, and embrace exile as a spiritual discipline through which God can refine His church as faithful followers of Jesus.
Consider joining one of our short-term small groups, designed to engage deeply with Scripture and with each other as we examine exile through the lens of our current context. And join us also for worship each Sunday as we seek to find our home first and most profoundly with God.
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Strangers in a Strange Land | 2019 Lenten Devotionals are available at Welcome Centers. You may also sign up to receive daily emails.
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