December 22, 2018

Advent 2018

"O Holy City, Seen of John"


As we develop the Advent Devotional Booklet each year, I tend to think of music that relates to the theme...consider it a side effect of my job!  This year the text of one particular hymn came to mind.  The words, written by Walter Russell Bowie, recount a vision of heaven, one that Christians have considered with glorious expectation for centuries.  But Bowie moves beyond that vision and encourages us to build that heavenly city here on earth--to reject the idea that the world cannot be made more just and loving, and to work toward a better life for all of creation.  It brings to mind the section of the Lord's Prayer that says, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." 


I share this text with you today in hopes that even as we look toward the future with glorious expectations, we may work to make those expectations a reality here on earth.


O holy city, seen of John,
Where Christ, the Lamb, does reign,
Within whose foursquare walls shall come
No night, nor need, nor pain,
And where the tears are wiped from eyes
That shall not weep again!


O shame to us who rest content
While lust and greed for gain
In street and shop and tenement
Wring gold from human pain,
And bitter lips in blind despair
Cry, "Christ has died in vain!"


Give us, O God, the strength to build

The city that hath stood

Too long a dream, whose laws are love,
Whose ways are servant-hood,
And where the sun that shines becomes
God's grace for human good.


Already in the mind of God
That city rises fair.
Lo, how its splendor challenges
The souls that greatly dare,
And bids us seize the whole of life
And build its glory there.

(The text is by Walter Russell Bowie.)

-- Kyle Ballantine


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