Psalms 46-48 are a trio of psalms that lift the vision of the worshiper above a jingoistic celebration of the city of Jerusalem to the God who is “king over the nations” (Ps. 47:8, CEB). Mount Zion is “the joy of the whole world” (CEB). Perhaps John remembered Psalm 46:4 when he envisioned the river that flows through the New Jerusalem and the tree that brings healing to the nations. (See Revelation 22:1-2.)

The Washington National Cathedral stands on the highest point of land in the District of Columbia. Above the High Altar is the massive carving of “Christ in Majesty” in which the risen Christ holds the globe in his hand. On this day when citizens of the United States celebrate the ideals that gave birth to our nation, the cathedral points to the Christ who reigns above every city or nation. The whole world is held in God’s grace and judgment. Any city or nation fulfills its highest purpose when it becomes part of the fulfillment of Jesus’ vision of God’s Kingdom, coming on earth as it is already fulfilled in heaven.

I don’t know why the editors of The United Methodist Hymnal placed “We’re Marching to Zion” as the last hymn in the book, but it seems like just the right place to me. It suggests that when we have said or sung everything we have to say or sing, there is still more out ahead of us. We are always on the way toward the fulfillment of God’s purpose that is captured in the vision of Mount Zion. God always has more for us. We’re always marching on “to fairer worlds on high.”

When Isaac Watts published the hymn in 1707, he titled it, “Heavenly Joy on Earth.” With the psalmists, we live with confident joy as we march onward to Zion.

Then let our songs abound and every tear be dry; we're marching through Emmanuel's ground, to fairer worlds on high. We're marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God (UMH, no. 733).

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 6:1-13

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Lectionary Week
June 28–July 4, 2021
Scripture Overview

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.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

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?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.