Church at home: Way of the Exile
During the past few weeks, we have all experienced loss──loss of hopes or expectations, jobs or stability, and some have even lost loved ones. This is a traumatic time that has left our once familiar world feeling foreign and strange. And in times like these, we may begin to question where God is in all of this. We see God’s people ask similar questions throughout the story of the Bible when they found themselves in times of fear and instability.
This week we will ponder the story of Israel’s exile in Babylon, when God’s people lost everything they knew and loved and were forced into an unfamiliar world. This loss was devastating, but it also made them imagine new ways to be faithful to God and his promises to restore the world. In a similar way, we are all experiencing loss during the COVID-19 crisis, but perhaps there is wisdom and hope for us in these biblical stories of exile and restoration.
READ & DISCUSS
Daniel and his friends are exiled to Babylon and made to serve in Babylon’s royal court. They’ve lost everything they know and love and are forced into an unfamiliar world. Notice the balance they strike between resistance and cooperation, demonstrated by their adherence to the Israelite food-laws. Daniel is willing to serve Babylon, but not when it requires compromise in serving his God.
- In what ways do you resonate with the Israelite’s experience of losing what they knew and loved? It’s okay to be sad and grieve this loss. Take a moment to reflect on how you might honor the loss you’ve experienced during this time.
- Consider the combination of loyalty and subversion displayed by Daniel. Do you see any ways this can be a model for your own life in this time of change?
Jeremiah writes a letter to a community of Israelites who were recently exiled to Babylon. He encourages them to settle in and build communities that seek the well-being of their captors. They are to seek peace and harmony not because they’ve given up, but because of their bold hope that God will rescue them and restore them to the promised land one day.
- What resonated most with you in this passage?
- Take a moment to reflect on what it means to “settle in” to this time, while still maintaining hope in the future.
- What could it look like to extend love to our leaders and the broader culture in this time?
1 Peter 1:1-2 and 2:4-17
Peter addresses followers of Jesus in the Roman empire, yet he calls them priests of God who are living in exile. He calls them to distance themselves from the value system of their surrounding culture, while at the same time being faithful to God and those around them.
- For many of us, our previous way of life has come to a halt. In what ways has your practice of worship and faithfulness to God changed?
- Think creatively about what faithfulness to God could look like in this strange new world. How can you connect with God and others and live faithfully in this time?