Monday, October 17, 2016

Marching to Zion

It is amazing that the church is still singing the hymns of Isaac Watts.  In 1707 believers started singing, "Come, ye that love the Lord, and let your joys be known; join in a song of sweet accord, join in a song of sweet accord, and thus surround the throne, and thus surround the throne.  We're  marching to Zion, beautiful,  beautiful, Zion.  We're marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God."  I always have enjoyed singing this old hymn with the congregation of God's gathered people.  It is one of those songs which has a way of filling the room with a vision of something hoped for, but still not seen.
Of course, to read the references to Zion in the 48th Psalm brings to mind the mountain fortress David used and then the temple area built by Solomon in Jerusalem.  Both are spoken of as Zion.  But, over the centuries the term has not only been used to speak of a literal geographic place, but the habitation of the all powerful and ever present God of the scripture.  The physical Zion has its spiritual counterpart as the spiritual, invisible, but ever present City of God.  It is this vision of Zion which fills the believers heart as the Isaac Watts' hymn is sung and the feet start feel like marching.
We live in this world which is filled with physical spaces which are seen, but there are also those moments when it seems that the physical has its spiritual counterpart which is separated by the thinnest of veils.  Those whose hearts are attuned to God may see visions of heaven as did some of the prophets, some may heart whispers of divine voices, and some may sense that they have been ushered into the presence of the gathered crowd of heavenly witnesses.  And sometimes as we stand in the midst of all that is mundane, there is no other explanation except to declare that glory has  broken into our earthly existence.  The image of Zion points us toward a life where expectations of such abound in the heart of the expectant and faithful believer. 

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