The biggest selling single in Britain in 1978 was ‘By the Rivers of Babylon’ by Boney M. It hard for me to believe that was 43 years ago, whilst some of you reading this would not have even been born in 1978! It is a very catchy tune with a great beat.
Interestingly, it is a song based on Psalm 137 in the Old Testament and tells the story of the people of Israel processing the destruction of their beloved city of Jerusalem in 587 BCE. They were taken captive to Babylon where they were tormented by the Babylonians ‘to sing us one of your hymns’. They respond by asking ‘How can we sing a song to the Lord in this strange land?’ They hung their harps on the poplar trees by the ‘Rivers of Babylon’. They did not break their harps, because they had faith to believe that their present despair would not last forever, and that one day they would once again take up their harps and begin singing ‘a song of the Lord’. They accepted that their present situation was difficult, but had faith to believe that one day the sun would break through their clouds of pain and suffering. That psalm was written over 2500 years ago and yet the message is relevant for us in 2021.
We are currently in a difficult space – so much of what we accepted as normal has been taken from us. At times it feels as though ‘we are in a strange land’. Our plans – like the harps – have been put on hold with the hope that one day we will pick them up again. The people of Israel did return to Jerusalem and once again they sang hymns to the accompaniment of their harps.
May God give us all the faith, hope and grace to believe that once again we will enjoy hospitality with the people we love, that our schools will return to normal and that we will enjoy the freedoms that we once knew. I trust you all have a good break. Hopefully we will get plenty of sunny days which will bring out the flowers in our garden, and that we will find much for which to be thankful.
My prayers and best wishes,
Senior School Chaplain