Jeremiah 29:4-14 tells an old story that intersects with our present day story. Israel’s elite were in exile, God’s divine relocation program. We too can find ourselves in places of physical, emotional or spiritual exile. Dislocated from where we feel at home, removed (sometimes by choice, other times by force) from where we really want to be. Yet for whatever reason, God allows or sees fit for us to walk through these seasons of discomfort. Most often, its in these times that God gets our attention, or at the very least, we’re finally able to see what’s been in front of us the whole time.
It’s in this space/exile that God challenges us to create dangerous memories. Life altering, game changing, course correcting happenings that not only influence but also set the trajectory for our lives, and the lives of those we love. Exile thus becomes a sweet spot, where we (re)engage our own stories and context, ever attentive to God’s holy interruptions.
Its in this physical and spiritual space that we become conscious of the stories we are writing, and the stories that will be told about us on our shift as citizens and as the church.
You are here. Wait, trust, be aware, join in. It’s where you’re supposed to be, even if its just for now.
Below you’ll find some of the ideas and authors that helped us out this month:
“The exile was the crucible of Israel’s faith. They were pushed to the edge of existence where they thought they were hanging on by the skin of their teeth, and they found that in fact they had been pushed to the center, where God was. They experienced not bare survival but abundant life. They now they saw their previous life as subsistence living, a marginal existence absorbed in consumption and fashion, empty ritual and insensitive exploitation. Exile pushed them from the margins of life to the vortex of where all the issues of life and death love and meaning, purpose and value formed the dynamic everyday, participation-demanding realities of God’s future with them.” (Eugene Peterson)
“The Church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non-members.” (William Temple)
*Britain had animal welfare laws before it had child welfare laws
*American couples now find just twelve minutes a day to talk to each other.
Over the last generation, the time parents spend with their children has declined by as much as 40%
*Time diary expert John Robinson says family time spent together is of a different quality – now much of it consists of parents chauffeuring their children from one event to another
*Kids are terribly overscheduled as ‘market values have invaded the family.’ Parents often see family life as about instilling competitive values in their children so they can compile the best resumes to get into the best colleges to get the best jobs to earn the most money. Meanwhile, the number of families regularly eating dinner together and taking vacations together has dropped by a third since 1970.
*The new homelessness: We have people living in houses with one another but not connecting with one another. They’re not interacting because, quite simply, they all have their own toys to play with. Dad is on the internet, mom’s upstairs watching a movie, the kids are downstairs playing video games. Everybody is connected to something outside the home even though they are physically within the home
*In 1967 2/3 of American college students said developing a meaningful philosophy of life was ‘very important’ to them, while fewer than on third said the same about making a lot of money. By 1997 those figures were reversed. A 2004 poll at UCLA found that entering freshman ranked becoming ‘very well off financially ahead of all other goals.
*Asked about their highest priority in a 1999 poll taken at the university of Washington, 32 percent of those surveyed cited ‘looking good/having good hair” another 18% listed ‘staying inebriated,” while only 6 percent checked ‘learning about the world’
“God is always at work. We can never walk into a situation where that is not the case.” (Mindy Calguire)
“It’s a complicated area that includes whether people feel they have opportunities,” he said. Those who engage in “risky behaviour” may feel that no matter what they do, others will be much better off than they are, he said. (Rod Beaujot, a sociology professor at the University of Western Ontario)
*Sarnia-Lambton also led the way amongst similar-sized communities when it came to impaired driving charges in 2008; stats going up, province down
*Our community also has a large number of high-risk drinkers, according to a recent Canadian Community Health Survey. Thirty per cent of residents admitted to downing five or more drinks in one sitting at least once a month, the second highest percentage in Ontario.
*As for over-eating, a Canadian Community Health survey found that 49.6 per cent of adults in Lambton County are either overweight or obese. That’s one in seven who are obese and one in three who are over-weight.
“Jeremiah’s letter is a rebuke and a challenge: “Quit sitting around feeling sorry for yourselves. The aim of the person of faith is not to be as comfortable as possible but to live as deeply and thoroughly as possible – to deal with the reality of life, discover truth, create beauty, act out of love…Don’t just get along, waiting for some sort of escape. Build houses, plant gardens, marry, have kids, pray for the wholeness of Babylon, and do everything you can to develop that wholeness. The only place you have to e human is where you are right now. The only opportunity you will ever have to live by faith is in the circumstances you are provided this very day: this house you live in, this family you find yourself in, this job you have been given, the weather conditions that prevail at this moment.” (Eugene Peterson)
“My whole life, I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted until I discovered that my interruptions are my work”. (Henri Nouwen)
“…there is none of this passivity in the Scripture. Those who are waiting are waiting very actively. They know that what they are waiting for is growing from the ground on which they are standing. If we wait in the conviction that a seed has been planted and that something has already begun, it changes the way we wait for the future. Active waiting implies being fully present to the moment with the conviction that something is happening where we are.” (Henri Nouwen)
“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
(Corrie Ten Boom)
“Normal life is full of distractions and irrelevancies. Then catastrophe: Dislocation. Exile. Illness. Accident. Job loss. Divorce. Death. The reality of our lives is rearranged without anyone consulting us or waiting for our permission. We are no longer at home. All of us are given moments, days, months, years of exile. What will we do with them? Wish we were someplace else? Complain? Escape into fantasies? Drug ourselves into oblivion? Or build and plant and marry and seek the shalom of the place we inhabit and the people we are with? Exile reveals what really matters and frees us to pursue what really matters, which is to seek the Lord with all our Hearts.” (Eugene Peterson)