1 Peter 1:1-3: To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who have been chosen an destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood: May grace and pace be yours in abundance.
Devotion: My aunt loves to travel. She talks of vacations in Paris, Rome, Ireland, Athens, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, or Duran, if she had the money. My uncle, on the other hand, is a homebody. She says, “His idea of a vacation is taking his soda to the back yard.” She dreams of adventures in far off lands. He dreams of comfortable chairs, quiet neighborhoods, and cool breezes. Like most Americans, they take the family on an annual vacation in the United States.
Exile is not a vacation, a sabbatical rest, or a time of renewal. Exiles are persons who were physically forced to depart the comfort, familiarity, and safety of their homeland for a time of detention in strange, new lands. Their involuntary relocation felt like a death march to a territory filled with disbelief, discontinuity, and a loss of dignity. Exile was an experience the people of God knew too well.
In his letter, Peter was writing to encourage God’s children scattered to the four corners of the earth as aliens in a frightening world. He reminded them that heaven is the believer’s true home. Therefore, sanctifying souls must endure the hardship of exile until God gathers them together in the everlasting Kingdom. Exile is not permanent, nor should we grow accustomed to the new world. We are not on vacation, nor are we trying to escaping the daily demands of life. Rather, we are to wait in our captive deportation for the anticipated arrival of our Liberating King.
Dear soul, do not be disheartened by the world even if you find yourself surrounded by the impassible interior mountains of Pontus, the ethical dilemmas of Galatia, the shifting political terrain of Cappadocia, the unscrupulous and greedy leaders of ancient Asia, and the scholarly philosophers of Bithynia. You are not alone! Our triune God is with us. God chose us, the Spirit is sanctifying us, and the blood of Christ is forgiving us because of Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection. You are not alone! You are surrounded by a host of other sojourners, known as the Church, who are experiencing the same discontinuity of community and chaos in the dispersion. Obedience to Christ will give us the abundant blesses of grace and peace needed until you reach your true, final home.
Prayer: God our Father, the world is a strange place filled with disjointed messages, disheartening ideas, disturbance experiences, and disagreeable people. Grant to your Church the ability to obey Jesus Christ by the work of your Holy Spirit, that we might experience the abundance of grace and peace until we reach our final home with you. We pray in the name of Jesus, who reigns with you, Father, and the Holy Spirit, as One God forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer Exercise: “Praying with Mandalas,” page 293, in Patricia D. Brown, “Paths to Prayer: Finding Your Own Way to the Presence of God,” (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003). ISBN: 0-779-6565-0. Copyright © 2003 by Patricia D. Brown. All rights reserved.