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Revelation? Exile?

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 1 December 2013

It is taking me a while to get my head around the meaning of this year’s Advent theme, Revelation in Exile.

What do we mean when we talk of exile? The dictionary says it’s ‘the state of being barred from one’s native country, typically for political or punitive reasons’. Recently I’ve used the same word to describe being confined to my kitchen, while my sitting room is redecorated. Do we think literally of exile – of those who have fled from their own country and who fear to return? Like the holy family seeking the safety of Egypt, and like Syrians fleeing intolerable violence. 

There is also an experience of exile that is common to all creation. For, in this world, there is no continuing city. We live with an unspoken longing for The Kingdom, where all things will be reconciled – within individuals, between individuals, and beyond individuals, to the whole of creation. 

Revelations of this reconciliation are all around us. A woman, bruised by a year of chemotherapy and wanting to celebrate Christmas differently, invites six asylum seekers to share the day with her and her parents. Two colleagues, in a difficult relationship, reach out towards vulnerable reconnection. A ruined landscape becomes a haven for wildlife. The world responds with generosity to Typhoon Haiyan. A friend struggling with ill health rejoices at the recovery of another. A once-anxious family, supported from the Vicar’s Relief Fund, sits and eats together. We give time to listen to the story of one of our homeless neighbours. God in heaven becomes God with us. 

Revelations may be small or large, day-to-day or profound. From our own exile, and our own unspoken longing, may we too be revelations of the kingdom. 

Ali Lyon