How Do We Sing the Lord’s Song in a Foreign Land?
“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!”Psalm 137:4-6
We begin our journey in a foreign land. Through baptism we were born into Zion, we were made citizens of the New Jerusalem, but we are separated from the land of our birth by our sin. The process of sanctification is the heart of our journey toward the Promised Land. In this first full week of Lent we will explore what it means to live in exile. This world, the secular society in which we dwell physically, is not our permanent home. It is a territory fraught with distractions which seek to draw our attention away from our true home and our loving Father. St. Peter strongly warns us to beware. He says, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). And he adds a few chapters later: “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you” (1 Peter 5:8-10).
We are citizens of the Kingdom. We are sons and daughters of the King. But we are still making our way through this world with all of the challenges and temptations associated with this secular environment. Though we find ourselves in this foreign land, St. Paul exhorts us to keep our eyes lifted up. In Colossians 3:1-4, he says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
So, here we are now, exiles in this strange and foreign land. Our true home is the Kingdom of our Father. As we begin reading these first three Songs of Ascent, let us look carefully at how we are living our lives as citizens of the Kingdom in a foreign land.