Tempting as it is to exegete Psalm 137 I’m simply using verse four to catch the eye of the reader here. Some may have sat down and wept as we have been locked out of our meeting places this week. We might feel like exiles, we may even have put up ‘closed for the duration’ signs and told people we can’t ‘do’ church for a while.
I want to stir us up if that’s the case. First, look up Psalm 137 – there it is, sandwiched between Psalm 136 – verse 1: Give thanks to the Lord, for His steadfast love endures for ever, and Psalm 138 verse 6: Though the Lord is high, He regards the lowly, verse 7: Though I walk in the midst of trouble You preserve my life, verse 9: The Lord will fulfil His purpose for me.
Second, spend some time giving thanks that God is sovereign, faithful, omnipotent, omniscient and completely committed to you – so much so that Jesus gave His life to reconcile you to Him.
Third, consider the commission we were given. WE are the church, and we’re asked to GO out, not to closet ourselves in cosy buildings.
Fourth, remember where our home is – we always were exiles, foreigners, since the day we followed Jesus. Recall that when he sent His disciples out he specifically instructed them to travel light.
Now reflect that the current dislocation from the buildings we are used to is our Lord’s encouragement to do what He has asked us to, at a time when we have the answer to the desperate situation the world is finding itself in. Indeed, ours is the only Hope that will endure, steadfast and certain. Now is the time the world is watching and waiting. Let’s get busy being the church. Isn’t that a good reason to sing the Lord’s song, however odd the current landscape may seem?
I should perhaps apologise to those who started to read in the hope that they would discover some magic formula for organising congregational singing over Zoom – if you find the answer write about it here.
Neil Walker is Chair of Church Growth Trust, a Director of Partnership and an elder in a small Midlands assembly.