Mournful Complaint


Written by Kurt Selles, a contemporary ministry director.

A jeremiad is a long, mournful complaint, a list of woes. This word came into use as a description of long, woe-filled passages in the book of Jeremiah. Indeed, the prophet rails repeatedly against the people of God in his day. The tone of Jeremiah’s entire book is lament because the sins of the people are truly depressing: idolatry, adultery, mistreatment of the poor and widows and orphans. God’s people, says Jeremiah, are like an unfaithful spouse and rebellious children. God’s judgment on such unfaithfulness will inevitably come, Jeremiah declares. And it does. God’s people lose the promised land and are exiled to Babylon. Jeremiah asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” Literally, the balm of Gilead was a topical medicine made from a local tree. But that’s not the treatment or the doctor Jeremiah is alluding to. He’s talking about a physician who can salve the eternal wound of rebellion and separation from God himself. He’s talking about salvation. Thankfully, God doesn’t leave his grieving people captive and far from home. Though the people suffer exile, God in his faithfulness heals and restores them. But the greater, eternal healing comes with the Great Physician, Jesus, who restores our souls.


Written by Kurt Selles, the author of today’s meditation.

O Jesus, Great Physician, you alone are the balm we need to heal our sin-sick souls. We beg your forgiveness for our sins. Heal us, we pray. Amen.

Learning From Exile


Written by Leo Beach, a contemporary author. This is an excerpt from his book “The Church in Exile: Living in Hope After Christendom.”

Exile tends to infuse communities with new creative energy that rises to meet the challenges of new circumstances. Accordingly, the responses to exile that are offered by communities depicted in Scripture provide resources to the contemporary church and its own formation as an exilic people.  That is, exile is an appropriate motif for the Western church’s understanding of itself and its mission in its current setting; a robust biblical and practical theology rooted in both the Old Testament and New Testament visions of exile can inform the contemporary church’s self-understanding and mission…As exile was for Israel a time for self-evaluation and reorientation, so it can be for the church. The way forward is to look around and understand our context, to look back and gather the resources that our Christian faith offers us, and then to look forward with a clear vision of how the church ought to and can function as God’s people in contemporary exile…While exile was devastating for Israelite life and faith, and life for the early church was a continual challenge, their circumstances proved to be a time of development that generated a better future for both. As Ephraim Radner eloquently states regarding Israel’s exile, “Exile is also a movement by which our Lord delineated deliverance. As such, it can hardly be a cause for fear.” This can also be the case for the Western church in the twenty-first century if we are willing to learn from the wisdom of our ancestors in the faith.


Today’s prayer is from Psalm 3, David’s prayer for deliverance.

Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.

Friendship in Exile


Written by Ruth Grendell from the Village Church.

My friend, Betty Simm, gave me her book of poems “Windows to My Soul”. Several years ago, Betty and her daughter, Kathy, moved to Utah to be with the family.  Now, our conversations are via phone calls and letters.  Every Christmas she sends the gift of a new poem to add to my collection.  During the Advent Season, the new poem is a reference for the time of looking forward to all the activities related to Christ’s birth. “It is our beginning, a spiritual birth. Jesus in human form proclaiming God with us”. However, during the six weeks of the Lenten season the gift of the poem encourages me to reflect on the life of Jesus—to acknowledge the purpose of His life; the impact on my life, my heart, and my mind.  I plan to select special times each day to reflect on the poem, to pray, to read the Scriptures as I acknowledge the true purpose of Christ’s life; to teach me, to be humble—to hope for the future, and to acknowledge his sacrifice for all of us. (If you see me wave my hand to the back of the sanctuary after the service, it’s to indicate that Betty, Kathy and I are still worshipping together as they are watching the service online).


Today’s prayer is from the Roman Breviary, a liturgical book first published in 1482.  It is also known as “the Liturgy of the Hours.”

O Lord,

be our Sanctifier and the Shepherd.

Strengthen and help us,

that in our daily life walk with you,

we serve you in all quietness of spirit,

through Jesus Christ our Master. Amen.

Post-Christendom Exile


Written by J. Andrew Dearman, a contemporary professor of Old Testament studies. This is an excerpt from his work “Exile and New Life.”

The topic of exile and new life intersect with several pertinent matters today. The Assyrian and Babylonian exiles (or as some historians now describe it, “forced migrations”) are the primary example of corporate failure in the Old Testament. These events, moreover, play a major role in the shaping of the Old Testament canon. One of our most influential biblical theologians, N.T. Wright, has proposed that a continuing sense of exile in the post-exilic period among Jews is the matrix in which Jesus announced the advent of the anticipated Kingdom of God… Some of our contemporaries have suggested that the Babylonian exile is particularly worthy of study as a way to think about the broader phenomenon of post-Christendom and minority status in western societies. One American Christian has said recently, “Let’s stop the pity party and instead say, ‘We’re in exile and this is not the first time God’s people have been in exile”… Speaking personally, I want to cling to the prophetic model, whereby a historic moment of failure ushers in dramatic new ways of presenting the divine-human relationship, ways that are surely congenial with the paradigm of cross and resurrection in the New Testament. Good Friday’s death leads through Saturday’s deathly exile to the resurrection of Easter morning. I can hold also to the Torah’s proclamation that when my tribe and I are in exile, God can perform a miracle on our collective heart. But there is something both foreboding and formative about looking systemic failure squarely in the eye and admitting that I am complicit and feel helpless. 


Written by Christopher McCluskey, a contemporary Christian coach and author.

Heavenly Father, we know we’re in a fallen world. We know that we’re to be cooperating with You and the ongoing redemption of this world until all things are made new. But Lord God, we find ourselves in a very unique and extremely painful and shameful state now, as we see ourselves sliding into a time of barbarism again, and anger and destruction on a scale that we’re not used to seeing present-day. Lord, we know that this grieves You even more than it grieves us, and we’re overwhelmed by it every day in the media. Heavenly Father, by your Holy Spirit, hear the prayers and petitions of your children. Heal our land. Heal our culture. Lead us into a greater capacity for listening in your Holy Spirit, by your Holy Spirit. Grant us the ears to hear as You hear and to hear what You’re wanting to say to us, and then and only then, use us as those mouthpieces, those vessels that You have in this broken world to bring healing. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Humanitarian Aid


Written by Rev. Dr. Donald Owens, Associate Director, Christ Ministry Center/Safe Harbors Network, a mission partner of the Village Church.

Last year, during Lent, Safe Harbors Network was working to meet the needs of Asylum Seekers and immigrants showing up on the doorsteps of Christ Ministry Center. This Lent, we are still working to provide food, clothing, and temporary shelter. This Devotional reminds us that we do not pass through this season alone. In this community, we are surrounded by others with hopes, fears, faith, courage, and doubts. During this season, our goal is to recruit sponsor families who will provide shelter and support, so we can continue to make a difference in the lives of more refugees fleeing disasters, famine, droughts, criminal activity, violence, wars, poverty, or other unbearable circumstances. In this season of Lent, I reflect on a family that was found sleeping on the steps of Christ Ministry Center on a Sunday Morning at 1:30 a.m. I was called and asked what he should do; this family consisted of a husband, wife, and two tiny toddlers sleeping on the portal under a blanket in 40-degree weather. The family was brought inside the building and given additional blankets and food. Later that Sunday morning, I went to the church to meet the family and decided for the family to stay in a hotel. This family only wanted to get to New York to cross into Canada, where they had family. They needed money for a bus ticket to New York. The Staff of Safe Harbors Network purchased tickets and gave money for food for them to travel to New York. Our hearts are happy because the family made it to New York and crossed the border into Canada to unite with other family members. The family called to thank us for providing humanitarian aid. They call monthly to give us an update on their progress while making a living in Canada. To God be the glory for those who cross our pathway; as we continue to make a difference in the lives of more refugees fleeing disasters, famine, droughts, criminal activity, violence, wars, poverty, or other unbearable circumstances.  ‘ I pray that this Devotional will steadily touch the hearts of those who read it to provide humanitarian assistance to our brothers and sisters seeking asylum.


Written by Catherine Gorman, a contemporary writer.

Father of all, there are many among us who go hungry. Help us to listen and respond as one family, so that, as we break bread together, we may glimpse your Kingdom here on earth – a Kingdom of welcome and plenty for all. Amen.


Written by Mark Woods, a contemporary pastor and head of Communications at The Bible Society.

From the eighth century BC, the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah were menaced by superpowers like Assyria and Babylon, and gradually got weaker. The northern kingdom of Israel was the first to fall – after 20 years of attacks by Assyria during which some of its people were taken into captivity, its capital Samaria fell in 722 BC. Many of the remaining people were dispersed throughout the Assyrian Empire, and others were brought in to replace them. As a nation, Israel was over. Judah lasted longer, but at the end of the seventh century, its decline began. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem in 605 BC. Repeated attempts to resist him led to repeated defeats. Large numbers of the Judeans were taken into exile in Babylon in 597 BC, 586 BC – when Jerusalem was sacked and burned – and 582 BC. Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, tried to escape but was blinded after seeing his sons slaughtered (2 Kings 25.7).  For the stories of the last years of the kingdom of Judah and the Exile, read 2 Kings 25, 2 Chronicles 35–36, and the book of Jeremiah. The book of Daniel is set during the Exile, as is Psalm 137, which begins with ‘By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion’, and the book of Ezekiel.   However, in 539 BC the Persian King Cyrus defeated the Babylonians and allowed the Jews to return. These stories are told in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

The Exile was important for lots of reasons. It meant the temporary end of Temple worship and the sacrificial system, which meant that the people had to think about what was really important in their faith. Could they really worship God without the things that had always supported them in their believing? It also saw the emergence of real scholarship, as scribes who could understand and interpret the Hebrew Scriptures – like Ezra – grew in prestige and significance. It meant that Jews were able to survive as a nation without being attached to the geographical land of Israel. Christians have drawn on the image of Exile to express our own relationship to the world. 1 Peter 2.11 says, ‘I appeal to you, my friends, as strangers and refugees in this world!’ Revelation 17.5 refers to ‘Babylon the Great’, the oppressive power that dominates our earthly exile. As the people of God, we’re not entirely at home in this world. But God brought the exiles home, and he has a home in heaven for us. 


Written by Anne Peterson, a contemporary poet, speaker, and author.

Father God, I come before you, with gratefulness. Thank you for your promise that you will never leave us. Thank you for your touch in our lives. Lord, thank you that you hold our hands whenever we need you. Remind us of your presence, Lord. Thank you for your faithfulness. I pray this in Your Son’s precious and Holy name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Written by Robert Jeffries, a contemporary pastor, professor, and speaker.

We’re in exile. But most of us don’t want to admit it. We all wish, in our unsanctified moments, that this world could be our true home. We can temporarily make ourselves forget that every pursuit in life is tinged with dissatisfaction and disappointment. We hold out a vain hope that we can find true and lasting happiness in the job we have, the stuff we buy, and the friends we make. But not if we’re in exile. Exile is a constant trial. Acknowledging exile means accepting that you will never feel completely at home here. You have to let go of any wishful thoughts that we can ever turn our earthly cities into the heavenly one (Hebrews 11:10). You have to embrace a life of tension, living here but longing for heaven.

We have a remarkable example of how to live well in exile in the prophet Daniel. Babylonian forces extracted Daniel from his home. He suddenly found himself cut off from the temple worship, from the promised land, and from God’s chosen people. He was taken to the capital of the world’s leading empire and conscripted into a three-year training course in Chaldean language and literature. He was longing for Jerusalem, but he would live out his days in Babylon. You can imagine different ways Daniel might have responded to exile. He could have plotted an insurrection or tried to escape. He could have cowered in fear. He could have flown below the radar, making the compromises necessary to get along with the rest of the king’s elite circle. But Daniel chose none of these options. Daniel struck out on a more difficult path, one marked by faithful engagement. Daniel engaged with his pagan city. He spent his entire adult life serving in its government, trying to improve the daily lives of people who knew almost nothing about the true God. And yet Daniel resolved to engage faithfully. He had certain lines he wouldn’t cross, certain things he wouldn’t do. He resolved to follow God’s will in every area of his life. He resolved to stand firm. As we learn from Daniel’s life, standing firm in exile brings trials and tensions that other people don’t have to deal with…    Daniel faced a choice. He could have stood down. But he chose to stand firm. This led to a religious awakening for King Darius. He spent a restless night in prayer and fasting. When Darius discovered that Daniel’s God had delivered him from the mouths of the lions, he sent out a new decree: “in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever” (Daniel 6:26). A single man’s decision to stand firm sent shockwaves through an entire kingdom.

Daniel’s faithful stand pointed people to the true God. Like Daniel, we are in exile. Like Daniel, God is calling us to stand firm. And like Daniel, God can work through our faithful engagement to make Himself known throughout our communities, our workplaces, our neighborhoods, and our families. Will you stand firm? Will you model for your city, for your church, and for your family what it looks like to be a godly man? Will you endure the challenges that are sure to come?


Written by Lesli White, a contemporary ministry leader and writer.

Heavenly Father, I open my heart wide to receive your love today. Please send Your healing power into my life to help me overcome the obstacles I face. I readily accept the healing power in my life, Amen.

Exiled in Australia


Written by Alan Goodman from the Village Church.

England was in shambles after WWII. With huge bombed out areas, factories destroyed, and everyone “climbing out” of a national WWII nightmare – my dad told my mom and me that we needed to get out of war-torn England to start a new life.  He moved our small family to Brisbane Australia not knowing anyone and having no job to go to. As a 12 year old, the Brisbane “suburbs” were still outback bush country in the 1940s with everything wild (not urbanized like today). We had mostly the clothes on our backs, little money, and little else in this strange land. I was rapidly introduced to lots of poisonous snakes, crocs, dingoes, large lizards, poisonous spiders, along with wild kangaroos, wallabies, cassowaries, koala bears, kookaburras, malaria-based mosquitoes, etc. – a far cry from my earlier childhood in built-up London.

We lived in a hut initially with no electricity, no water, no windows, and no sewer system in that Bush environment. Our outhouse had to be constantly checked for snakes in this sub-tropical climate to even use that facility. Even opening any outside door would bring in a swarm of insects into our living area. In those early years, I really felt like an exile. I was “out of place” with my early Australian school classmates and never felt “at home” for a long, long time. When reading about Daniel in the Bible, I can really relate to suddenly being thrust into a totally different world where you are that stranger! In looking back on life, that whole life episode was God-given for me to now be tolerant to the strangers among us. It is also what Jesus would want us to do as well. Feeling like an exile myself provided that biblical tolerance.


Written by Clement of Rome (??-99), bishop of Rome and one of the first Apostolic Fathers of the church.

We beseech You, Master, to be our helper and protector. Save the afflicted among us; have mercy on the lowly; Raise up the fallen; appear to the needy; heal the ungodly; Restore the wanderers of Your people; Feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners; Raise up the sick; comfort the faint-hearted.

Bringing Us Home


Written by Richard T. Ritenbaugh, a contemporary pastor and author. This is an excerpt from his book “How to Survive Exile.”

God promises, “I’m going to bring you home. You will no longer be in exile. I will give you the promised land. I will give you My rest.” We have been seeking “the rest of God “‘the true Sabbath, in His Kingdom (Hebrews 4). He says He will give it to us because of His good plans in His heart for us. He wants these good things to be given to us. So, He urges us to continue on, to build our families, and to strengthen the ties between, not only within the family but with other families of His people. We are to overcome, grow, and produce fruit so that we will have the heart that will seek Him in everything. And if we can, to grow in numbers. He wants us to be increased and not diminished, if possible. He also advises us to be at peace with other men, to have the peace around us in which we can grow in righteousness and holiness and transform into His image. When we do those things, and God’s time is right, He will bring us out of our exile. But not until then. He is the one, the Master Timekeeper, and when He says it is the right time, it will be the very best time for us to come out of exile. From wherever He has scattered us, He will bring us back and settle us, giving us true rest in His Kingdom.


Written by Debbie Przybylski, founder of Intercessors Arise International.

Lord, I thank You that You will answer my prayers in Your perfect timing. Reveal what is in my heart and make me ready to handle the answer in the right way when it comes. Help me to pray by faith consistently and long-term, to believe, wait, and then move forward in Your timing. Help me to be patient in prayer, not give up, and trust You even during moments when I feel negative emotions. I don’t want to live by feelings but by faith. Help me not to take matters in my own hands. I choose to trust you, and I refuse to believe the lies of the enemy. I choose to be faithful in prayer. Deepen my understanding and give me a greater knowledge of what You are doing in my life. I choose to hold unswervingly to the hope that I profess (Hebrews 10:23). Stretch my faith in the midst of the wait, just as You did with Your disciples when encountering a storm at sea. I thank You that You have all wisdom and will answer my prayers in the perfect way. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Written by Terra Pennington, a contemporary pastor.

There was grumbling. They grumbled and left. How did Jesus feel in his humanity? Did the rejection sting? No one fully knew Jesus. Did Jesus live in internal exile? No one else was like him — no one around to say, “I get it. This fully human/fully divine thing, it’s all kinds of complicated.” I recently spent time feeling “internally exiled,” away from what was familiar and doing work that was different from what others were doing. I felt that the best parts of me were often hard to see. I had grumblers. I also soon discovered a community that would come from the most surprising places. Colleagues provided a listening ear and invitations to dinner. A pastor tackled a broken system with me.  The least expected place was with a community of people who were refugees. A wise sage asked me if I felt sad. I said I feel far from everything right now. Then, realizing how much privilege I had (home was just a plane ticket away, and English was my first language), I immediately apologized. I will be fine. Then the man looked at me and said, “We are your home.” I was in the midst of the most vulnerable in our society. They embraced me with all my privilege anyway. The third day came — the women running back, the others outracing each other to get there first. Jesus had moved through internal exile via community to freedom. I have moved from my own internal exile, via finding communities in different places, and through that, on to freedom. Internal exile can be excruciating. Especially when we cannot find a community where we fit. I believe that God suffers with us. We are not alone. The Holy Spirit continues to do her work, moving us from exile to community to freedom.


Written by William Wilberforce (1759-1833), a British politician, philanthropist, and leader of the movement to stop the slave trade.

Lord God, Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength and forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will: through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.