I want to begin this reflection on Hebrews 11:13-16 by listening to the Wailin’ Jennys singing The Light of a Clear Blue Morning. That image of awakening with the sun shining gently on our faces, with a light breeze, and a blue sky embracing all that we can see, is very dear to my heart. Whenever I awaken like that I feel that everything will ultimately be okay. When I am frightened by my own mortality, by anxiety about my family, by worry about the world, I remind myself that we are pilgrims on a journey, always heading to the light of a clear blue morning. We have experienced the peace and gentleness of that morning, and we know that in that morning is the truth of our connection to the Holy. At a recent wedding, a young woman sang In the Garden, about what it feels like to be in the presence of love fulfilled.
That is not all life holds however. Jesus was born into the sacred story of the Jewish people, a narrative that included two significant ideas: exodus and exile. Walter Brueggemann speaks about the risky nature of faithfulness, a faithfulness that will challenge, will test, and has no guarantee of success in the lifetimes of the pilgrims. But exodus offers the possibility of moving from the real or metaphorical shackles of one life to the freedom and rebirth of another. Exodus promises that injustice can be redressed, pain can be healed, and reconciliation is possible.
Exile, on the other hand, is not a choice, but is the reality of the 60 million refugees worldwide. Exile demands either a return to one’s place of birth or, recreating a home in a new and often, challenging environment. Exile requires a faithful trust that the values of our lives, of our hopes and dreams, are not held in vain, but can be transplanted because it is in our hearts and minds that they are carried.
Both exodus and exile require community, require courage and vision, require memory of our stories and our narratives, require faith that there is a homeland, there will be a clear blue morning, that our lives have meaning and value.
For those of us who are Christians, we understand that following Jesus will, at various times, require us to be both faithful pilgrim and courageous refugee. We will be required to speak out of compassion when others choose judgement, mercy when others condemn, and tolerance beyond our own cultural vales. The cross demands that we be willing to give it all up, our certainty, our convictions, our privilege, and even our fears and doubts.
How can we choose such an audacious path? Jesus created a community for us, a community of equals, diverse, imperfect, but constantly evolving. We travel together in this community and sometimes we carry one another, and sometimes we speed along with the wind under our feet.
We are also given the narrative of the resurrection, the promise that we are never alone, never abandoned, no matter what experiences our life might try to teach us otherwise. Resurrection is not a faint idea, but a visceral hope, a reality that we live out again and again as the body of Christ, that appears differently in every age, and yet remains constant in its values of compassion, mercy, justice. We carry the resurrection in our hearts, on our hands in our broken and healing lives. We are the witnesses to that clear blue morning and we can see everything is going to be all right, everything is going to be okay.