Church of England Diocese of Guildford Dunsfold

A MESSAGE FOR LENT FROM THE DEAN OF GUILDFORD CATHEDRAL

8 Mar 2021, 7:30 p.m.

How can I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

A cry from Psalm 137, written in a time most of the nation of Judah, with its capital at Jerusalem had been taken into an exile in Babylon. Not all the people were taken of course – there was a remnant of the Southern Kingdom left. Although the people didn’t go willingly, not everyone wanted to return when it became possible. They were those who had discovered how to sing the Lord’s song, not in a strange land, but in a new land.

They were surprised that the singing of their cherished song sounded different, but felt the same. What they brought with them about the worship of God was still the same and, at the same time, new.

They remembered what they had been taught but what really surprised them was that they discovered their God in a strange land. Not just in Judah, not just in Jerusalem but everywhere. ‘How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’, became ‘How can we sing the Lord’s song in a new land?’

Like those in Exile, we have all been navigating a ‘strange land’. And we are continually surprised by what we are learning. When things eventually settle into a new normal will we just go back to singing the old songs in the old ways? Or will what has surprised us stay with us and inspire us to sing the Lord’s song in new ways in our new land?