Our “Exile Moment”
Under the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, the Israelites lived in exile. They were uprooted from their land and the temple; from corporate worship and community. They were separated from their friends, their community, and sometimes, even their own families. Many, if not most, struggled to maintain their devotion to God, their desire for holiness, and their conviction to live out their “way,” which was the 10 commandments. Knowingly or not, many Israelites allowed themselves to be absorbed into the culture of their day. But, some, commonly called “The Remnant,” held fast to their covenant and did not allow themselves to be absorbed in the world culture.
For our churches, our community, and for the communities in the Sword of the Spirit, today is like an “exile moment.” Specifically, communities like ours are built on relationships: loving, urging, caring, witnessing, etc. With our meeting times reduce to phone calls, Zoom meetings, and far less personal contact, it’s more difficult to stay focused on our way of life, which is grounded in the Scripture. It’s more difficult to keep the upward, the inward, and the outward dimensions of our covenant in the forefront of our minds without our communal gatherings and ministry outreach.
I suffer each day knowing that I will not be able to see you all in person. Recent meetings at Jeremy’s house were a real blessing. Saturday, our men’s group met early at Panera Bread—and we have been regularly. These meetings have also been real blessings. But, these times are far too few. Human beings are made for community and togetherness. And, in today’s pandemic, the whole world is struggling to find connection. Our lives are being uprooted. Many are suffering over sickness, job loss, and the death of a loved one.
So, what can we do as a community?
1. A call to for increased personal responsibility.
- To get in our prayer and Scripture
- To do our best to live out our prayer, faithfully and honorably
- To connect with people in our small groups
- To make it a point to share at our Zoom meetings
- To do what we can with those in need
- To pray intercession daily
- To do soaking prayer!
2. To attend as many meetings as possible.
- To realize that this is the way it will be for a while with COVID
- To come to Zoom morning prayer – if schedule allows – because it is a real blessing. We will likely continue these meetings after COVID
- To invite people to the Zoom morning prayer – people are open
- To come to the Zoom prayer meeting on Monday
- BTW, we will try meeting at Blessed Trinity on Nov 2—in a week
- To come ready to build up your small group when you meet
- To do as much as you can do for others . . . (Matt 7:12; 25:40)
3. This is a moment for our community to shine brightly
- Let’s try our best to make time for Jesus each day
- By setting aside time to worship & worship as a family if you can
- By repenting for your sins and reading the Word every day
- By coming to morning prayer if you can
- By coming to PM with “expectation” – that God will bless us
- By coming prepared – with Words of Knowledge, Prophecy, or words of encouragement and with personal witnessing
- Let’s make it a point to increase our love for others
- By Words of inspiration – peace, inspiration, joy, encouragement – to others
- By not saying any divisive or negative words to others
- By doing acts of kindness to family, friends, and neighbors
- By inviting other people to come to morning prayer
- By gifts of money or supplies to those in need
- Let’s make it a point to be like the remnant of Israel
- Many Israelites fell into idolatry and worldly ways but the remnant remained faithful to God – even as others tried to undermine their way of life.
- Like the remnant, each day, let’s wake up and say, I will hold the ground that God has shown me and given to me and to our community.
- Let’s know that God is with us and he will never forget or abandon us. He is with us forever. Scripture says, “Do not fear, for I am with you for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).
- Let’s hold fast to Paul’s final words to the Ephesians “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the Church, which Jesus purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).