* Procession of saints.
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God....
A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray....
but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
What a wonderful picture Isaiah draws of the new Kingdom. For him this is a time when God will save Israel and bring them back home to Jerusalem. They will return singing with joy and all will be at peace. The word 'Zion' is the name for what was once an ancient Canaanite hill fortress in Jerusalem that was captured by David. After this the city was often called the 'City of David'. In the scriptures Zion is also sometimes called the 'City of God', the place where God dwells.
But we should note that Zion is not just a physical structure, it's also a spiritual structure. For Christian writers in the New Testament 'Zion' is a name for the New Jerusalem that God is building - for the 'Kingdom of Heaven' - which is partially here wherever love is found, but equally is not yet complete as we can see from evil in our world.
Today we remember 'All Saints'. The word 'saint' comes from the Latin word 'sanctus' meaning holy, and is used to refer to a person who has lived a holy life and who is a model for us. Many saints, but not all, have suffered for their faith, and we thank God for them and try to follow their example to live close to our Lord. We might like to think of them as part of the host who praise God in Heaven!
Lord Jesus Christ,
You built Your Church on the
foundation of the apostles and evangelists
who took Your Gospel message to the world,
despite the dangers to themselves.
Today we thank You for their example
of faithfulness and constancy,
and pray that we may catch something
of their desire to spread Your message of love.