Monday, September 24, 2018

A Census Was Taken

On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
the Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. 


Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; Philistia too, and Tyre, with Ethiopia—“This one was born there,” they say.
And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in it”; for the Most High himself will establish it.
The Lord records, as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” 


Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.”
 
Ps 87

The 87th Psalm is among the most curious songs in the Bible. But when I think on its true meaning, I am deeply moved. It begins with God's choice of one place over all others—a reference to unconditional election: Why has God chosen Zion? Because God loves it. No other reason is given, but because of God's love, Zion is glorious.

But the real point here is citizenship. In the United States, we're big on citizenship. And all citizens are (or technically should be) granted equal rights. Except one: Only a natural born citizen may become President of the country. A naturalized citizen is ineligible for this honor. It's almost as though Psalm 87 anticipates this distinction by making clear something that might easily have been misunderstood: Though God chose Zion because God loves Zion, all who lodge there are said to be from there, regardless of their biological origin. This is not because some law, worth only as much as the paper it's written on, says so. It's because God has registered it in the book of life.

I find it frustrating when I hear people declaim the fact that they were born into this church or that church. "I'm a cradle Episcopalian," they might say. Or "I was born a Congregationalist because my ancestors came over on the Mayflower." Such declarations have no meaning, for to be a Christian is to have been born in Zion and to inhabit Zion. A census was taken before time began, and in it were recorded the names of the children of God. Let us, whether we sing it out or show it in our movement, say, "You, O God, are my only Source."

Thank you, O God, that I am no longer a stranger or alien, but a citizen with the saints and a member of your household.* In the Name of Jesus, who taught me to pray...

*Ephesians 2:19

Don McLean • orphans of wealth

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