Posted by: rcottrill | March 4, 2019

Children of the Heavenly King

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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: John Cennick (b. Dec. 12, 1718; d. July 4, 1755)
Music: Pleyel’s Hymn, by Ignaz J. Pleyel (b. June 18, 1757; d. Nov. 14, 1831)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: This fine hymn is sung (twice) in Mrs. Miniver, the Academy-Award-winning movie about wartime in England. In the story, it’s sung by a congregation at the beginning and end of the Second World War. As I write, I can hear the rich voice of actor Walter Pigeon rising above the others. Whoever selected that hymn, it was an inspired choice. It’s found in the Anglican hymnal, in a section called Pilgrimage and Conflict. In Mrs. Miniver, it says, tacitly, that the pilgrim journey of the people of God goes on, through times of peace and war.

We are creatures of time and space. I’m now at Point A (whatever its actual name), and I plan to travel to Point B, if I’m able. And doing so will take a certain amount of time, depending on the distance and other factors. It sounds obvious perhaps, but it’s important. Because we’re all travelers, pilgrims in this world. This mortal life itself can be viewed as a journey, from the womb to the tomb.

On my father’s gravestone is the following information: 1902–1962. The first date tells when his journey of life began; the second tells when it ended–that is, as far as this present earthly life is concerned. And that dash between the dates represents a journey of sixty years. How small it looks. How uncomplicated. Yet the journey of life is anything but.

Many observations have been proffered on the subject. Some wise, some otherwise. Those that evidence a lack of understanding and accuracy often come from a view of life that sees nothing beyond the grave. But, as J. R. Baxter’s old gospel song says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.” Our stay here is only temporary. The Lord wants His children with Him, in a place of eternal blessing.

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:2-3).

The Bible tells us God’s plan is “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). And, through Christ, Christians have “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for [us]” (I Pet. 1:4).

What a future! And the things which make the present journey difficult, and sometimes painful, will not be a part of life in the heavenly city. There, “God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

With these wonderful truths in mind, you can see the serious limitations of philosophies that say, “Our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” That’s only half true. Whether we believe our ultimate end is a hole in the ground, or an eternal heavenly home, will inform and influence our choices and goals today. Another says, “It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Again, only partly true. Where we end up is surely of surpassing importance.

Much better are these two observations.

“The journey you wish to take can only begin from where you are right now.” That’s exactly why it’s vital to put our faith in Christ today. “Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2).

Then, one more wise observation: “If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep on walking.” And we’re to travel on, keeping our eyes on the Saviour, “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher [the Source and Goal] of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).

We move forward, having recognized and confessed that we’re “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13), guided by heavenly values, emboldened by a heavenly hope, and cheered by like-minded companions on the way. In 1742, evangelist John Cennick  published a hymn about our pilgrim journey in company with other believers. (And “Zion’s city,” of course, refers to the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22), not the earthly.)

CH-1) Children of the heavenly King,
As you journey, sweetly sing;
Sing your Saviour’s worthy praise,
Glorious in His works and ways.

CH-2) We are traveling home to God,
In the way the fathers trod;
They are happy now, and we
Soon their happiness shall see.

CH-3) Glory be to Jesus’ name,
Glory be to Christ the Lamb;
Through Thy blood were we redeemed,
When we justly were condemned.

CH-6) Lift your eyes, you sons of light,
Zion’s city is in sight:
There our endless home shall be,
There our Lord we soon shall see.

Questions:
1) What are some special blessings of God on life’s journey that you have enjoyed?

2) What has the companionship of other believers meant to you on this journey?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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