This is a heartwarming passage for a city girl! Heaven is multicultural and densely populated.
The palm branches—a symbol of victory and thanksgiving—remind us of the crowds who sang praises as Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week.
This passage also reminds me of the Taizé Community in France where the brothers (who wear white robes for worship) are joined by a great multitude of people to offer the songs and prayers in many different languages. Being in Taizé is always a heavenly experience for me!
Every Friday, evening prayer in Taizé takes place around the cross. A large icon of the cross is brought into the center of the church, then all the brothers turn toward the cross and fall on their faces before it. Afterward, the young people line up on their knees, sometimes for hours, to offer their own prostration and prayer at the cross.
The description of heavenly worship in Revelation gives a sense of a well-choreographed and planned liturgy, with everyone doing the same thing at the same time and reciting the same words. And yet, within that—as in Taizé—each individual’s expression emanates from his or her own intimate relationship with God.
I believe that is what heaven will be like! We will be caught up and held within that great multitude of people from every tribe and tongue, and we will also feel a deep sense of personal communion with God. I treasure worship experiences I have had here on earth that have given me a glimpse of the heavenly city.
Sing your prayer today using a Taizé chant, a hymn, or a song that enables you both to feel part of a worshiping community and to express your own relationship with God. You might also try praying in a different posture—standing, sitting, kneeling, prostrating, or dancing!
The imagery of sheep plays a prominent role in three of this week’s readings. Psalm 23 uses the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep as its guiding metaphor. The Lord is our shepherd and leads us to safe and fertile places. Even when we pass through a dark valley, the Lord is there protecting us with a shepherd’s weapon, a staff. In the Gospel reading, Jesus describes himself as a shepherd who calls his sheep. Because they are his, they hear his voice. In Revelation, Jesus becomes the sheep—or more specifically, the Lamb that was slain on our behalf. Those who endure will praise the Lamb forever. Acts is different in that it focuses on a resurrection story, a manifestation of God’s power working through Peter.
Read Acts 9:36-43. How can you be a witness and a vessel for God’s activity?
Read Psalm 23. Reflect on the questions the author poses in Tuesday’s meditation. Allow God’s guidance and correction to be comforting.
Read Revelation 7:9-17. How does knowing Christ as both Lamb and Shepherd help you work to bring about things not yet seen?
Read John 10:22-30. How does your faith allow you to hold your convictions without needing to grasp tightly to certainties?
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