I never cease to be inspired when I arrive in Washington, D.C. and ride past the Washington Monument or walk around the Lincoln, Jefferson, and King memorials. They are architectural witnesses of the yet-to-be-fulfilled vision that gave birth to this nation. They inspire hope that we may yet accomplish the promise of “liberty and justice for all.”
I’ve experienced similar inspiration walking around the Houses of Parliament in London, climbing the steps of Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, or standing on Corcovado Mountain beneath the statue of Christ the Redeemer stretching his arms over Rio de Janeiro. The architecture inspires the vision of what God intends for the world to be and who we may yet become.
Psalm 48 is one verse of a trio of songs (46-48) that celebrate Mount Zion as “the city belonging to our God . . . the joy of the whole world” (CEB) The psalmist moves from observing architecture to affirming theology in declaring, “God is in its fortifications” (CEB). Walking around the city inspires the psalmist to declare, “This is God, our God, forever and always” (CEB).
The psalm reverberates with joy in the hope Mount Zion represents. Jerusalem becomes the physical expression of God’s intention of the whole world and the ultimate destination of our spiritual journey. In Revelation, the New Jerusalem becomes the fulfillment of the promise of a world in which God’s will is done and God’s kingdom comes on earth. John envisions a city where all nations are welcome and “its gates will never be shut” (Rev. 21:25, CEB). That’s why faithful disciples in every generation sing, “We’re Marching to Zion."
Come we that love the Lord, and let our joys be known; join in a song with sweet accord, and thus surround the throne. We're marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God (UMH, no. 733).
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures this week celebrate Jerusalem, the capital of the great King David, who united the ancient Israelites and built up the city. The psalmist praises Jerusalem using the image of Zion—a name used for earthly Jerusalem but also a gesture toward a future day when God’s people will abide in a heavenly city. In Second Corinthians, Paul explains that even though he is an apostle, he struggles like everyone else. Speculation surrounds the “thorn” that plagued Paul; but his point is that when he is weakest, God is strongest. In Mark, we see God’s power working through Jesus, who sent out others to expand God’s healing work.
Read 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10. What qualities of leadership are important in this reading? How do those qualities square with your experience with those in power?
Read Psalm 48. Bring to mind a place where you experience God’s presence. What is it about that place that makes you especially aware of God’s presence?
Read 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. When have you experienced weakness becoming a source of strength and power?
Read Mark 6:1-13. When have you discounted someone because of your assumptions about them?
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