Thursday, July 28, 2005


The unfortunate earworm that has been trapped in my head for the past few weeks is Newsboys' "The Orphan":
maybe I push when I'm meant to be still
maybe I take it all too personal
Jesus, how to reconcile
the joyful noise
the ancient land
the tug from some invisible hand
the dying mother weaving bulrushes
along the Nile

float her basket over the sea
here on a barren shore
we'll be waiting for
a tailwind to carry her (an) orphan's cry
don't you worry, child
I wrote a lullaby

I try to settle, but I just pass through
a rain dog, gypsy
a wandering Jew
all those homes were not ours
then I slept one night
in Abraham's field
and dreamt there was no moon
the night he died
counting stars


building you a home
building you a home
building you a home
we're building you a home


float her basket over the sea
here on a barren shore
we'll be waiting for
a tailwind to bring us your sweet cry
don't you worry, child
I'm gonna sing you a lullaby

It's not that the tune is particularly fascinating or lyrics particularly clear and meaningful. But that's the illogicality of earworms for you.

Anyhow, the lyrics speak interestingly of travellers, wanderers, people with no place to rest their head:
  • Moses started off as a baby with no home, was adopted by the people of Egypt but in the end was rejected by his adopted home at 40 years of age and wandering in the desert for the rest of his life, never stepping foot in the Promised Land.
  • A rain dog is a term for a dog you might see huddled in a doorway in the city or lost out in the country, unable to find its way home because the rain has washed away its scent markers.
  • Gypsies are nomadic and are hardly accepted and usually viewed with suspicion by both townspeople and country folk.
  • The Wandering Jew is a figure of folklore. In legends, he is supposed to have been a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the cross and was cursed to wander the earth forever until Judgement Day (well, that's terribly unChristian lack of grace for you).
For a large part of my life, I've had the feeling that I was wandering far from that which was truly home, always eager to move on, thirsting for the next journey, wondering what's on the other side of the mountain or the ocean. Maybe it's genetic: at any given time, my cousins are spread out over several continents, a girl or two in each state, and the continents (and girls) keep changing. They try to settle down, they attempt engagement, but soon the wanderlust is too great and in the end, they just pass through and on to the next place. Maybe the same dis-ease is shared by all mankind.

Is the solution the gospel? Is the answer, as Peter Furler suggests, for the church to be a home for the homeless and fathers to the fatherless?

Perhaps the local community of believers, the church might be somewhere we could call "home". But the gospel suggests and the Bible confirms that the implication of knowing and trusting in God is not that we will be able to call anywhere "home". Rather, we will not be accepted anywhere: we will be aliens and strangers (1 Peter 2:11) in any society we attempt to enter, in any country, in any culture.

For now...

For the writer of Hebrews says of Abraham and all the faithful with him:
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
...a city which we can finally call "home" and find our rest...

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