Part of my experience includes 3+ years as a lay missionary in Kenya. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience. One of the pivotal experiences was seeing one’s home country through the eyes of another people. I remember one discussion with a chief of the Kikuyu people (one of the 50+ tribes of Kenya) who asked me if it was true that in the United States 51% of the people voted for something that was they way it would be. I responded that was accurate in our democracy. He sadly shook his head and noted that no Kikuyu chief would ever want 49% of the people to be unhappy. He would direct the people and leaders to continue to talk until at least 75% of the people agreed – the others would then understand that it was their communal duty to support such a decision. There are lots of other stories of people seeing us from afar and having some interesting insights.
There are 75 million Americans who voted for Mr. Biden. There are 71 million Americans who voted for President Trump. There is a divide, there are passionate people. There is an election that had been lost; an election won. And in the midst of all this I am reading “The Immortal Irishman” by Timothy Egan. The books details the life and times of Thomas Francis Meagher, from his rise as an Irish nationalist and leader of the Young Irelanders in the Rebellion of 1848 (in the wake of the Great Hunger ((Irish: an Gorta Mór ; outside of Ireland known as the potato famine), his conviction of sedition, sentencing to death (but instead exiled for life to Van Diemen’s Land/Tasmania in Australia), his escape to the United States, his leadership of the Irish Brigade during the American Civil War, and his final adventure to Montana.
To be an exile is to experience the devastating reality of being driven out of a secure place of belonging. Israel experienced exile under the Assyrians and most notably at the hand of the Babylonians. Especially in the Babylonian exile, the Israelites began to understand how they were called to rely on God in the midst of isolation and uncertainty. While we might never experience exile as a nation, each of us have know times of isolation and uncertainty.
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