“So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:12-15 ESV).
I traveled to a Bible Lectureship at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee, last week. There I worshiped and heard speakers from around the world. Beautiful singing of hymns and praise songs were part of the blessing I received. Reunion with long-time friends brought joy, but also reminders of times of sorrow. As I sang Konstantin Zhigulin’s “My God and King,” my eyes filled with tears as I recalled that the last time I had sung that song had been at the same event three years ago, just two weeks after my older son died. I spent time talking with classmates and friends of my parents. A distant relative who spoke at the Lectureship and I spent some time reviewing how we are related. I joined hundreds of others at a dinner in honor of a retiring Vice-President of the university, Samuel Jones, a good friend and former classmate. And I brought home with me – the flu. Several things about the trip reminded me of the transient nature of our lives. The journey to attend, the aging of friends, and changes to the campus all brought to my attention that one of the constants of life is that things change.
We who follow Christ travel on our own spiritual Exodus, having been liberated by God from our own versions of slavery – addiction, pride, immorality, etc. As we travel, we are tempted to turn around, or to set down roots and stop our journey. Pray with me that we may keep our eyes fixed on the Messiah who leads us and follow him wherever he leads. Pray that we may remember that we are sojourners, and invite others to join us on our journey.
O God, you were the Fear of Isaac and the Delight of the Psalmist. I pray that we too may serve you faithfully with reverence and joy. We travel, as they did, on a pilgrimage of faith toward a city with enduring foundations that you have created. Here we have no real home; we are sojourners, immigrants whose families have migrated throughout the nations. Help us to remember that we are sojourners -this world is not our home. Supply us with wisdom and compassion that we may help other travelers. A wandering Aramean was our spiritual ancestor; may we be blessings to the people among whom we travel. We witness hatred, infidelity, and violence. Strengthen our resistance to being pulled into lives of fear and revenge. Soothe the pain of those who grieve; make us your agents of hope to those who have lost much. In Jesus’ name, amen.