by Pastor Fraser Pearce
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Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion (Psalm 84:5).
On the eve of a holiday, it’s natural to be filled with excitement and anticipation. Especially if we are holidaying with friends, and especially if we are travelling to a place that we have dreamed about, then the journey itself is part of the joy. Even if there are difficulties on the path, the closer we get to the destination, the more conversation with friends grows animated, and the more the anticipation of the arrival is heightened.
In today’s psalm, we hear about the joy pilgrims experience as they journey to Zion –to Jerusalem and God’s temple. They know that the temple is where God had made himself graciously present to his people. The pilgrims look forward to their arrival and to the joy they will have worshipping together in the presence of the Lord. They picture in their minds the beauty of the temple and the fact that even the birds find homes in God’s presence as they build their nests near the altars.
It’s not that the journey is without difficulties. Along the way, they have to pass through dry and desolate country. But because the pilgrims have the joy of the destination in their hearts, then even the driest and most unwelcoming places become to them like land blossoming with spring rains. They go from strength to strength on their pilgrim journey.
As God’s holy people, baptised into Christ Jesus, we are on a pilgrim journey to be with God. The path is not always easy – in fact, we take up our cross and follow where Jesus leads. But with Jesus, we come to the true and lasting Zion, the eternal city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22). This gives us joy on our path together so that even in the driest places, we find refreshment from God.
Father, as we journey on the path of faith with our brothers and sisters, keep our eyes fixed on our heavenly calling so that we may be filled with the joy of your Spirit and come to see you face to face. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Fraser Pearce is pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Flinders Street, Adelaide. He grew up in Sydney, where he attended St Mark’s Lutheran Church, Epping. He was ordained in 1997 and served at St Paul’s Box Hill, Victoria, and Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Bendigo, Victoria. Fraser has been married to his wife, Margaret, since 1995, and they have four children.