Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Phi 1:6 KJV)
We are going to heaven and therefore we are proceeding towards the coming Lord. This is a lifelong journey and pilgrimage for all of us. Whoever loves the Lord, may confess this confidently and not be ashamed of opposition or the duration of this life long passage. At the end it will always have been a rather limited period and our efforts will look rather dismal and weak. How easy will the triumph and victory appear then? Then we will be overcome by joy and our mouths will be full of laughter and praises. The Lord sends his help and encouragement from his holy sanctuary and he strengthens us from Zion. Hallelujah + Amen.
Lord, our God! We thank you, that you accompanied our fathers in Christ and that you were their enlightening sun and protective shield, so that their lives and workings amongst your people was a strong witness to your glory and mercy, truth and abiding faithfulness. Help us like you helped them, so that we to may come from darkness to light, from the petty troubles of our dismal lives to your peace and rest. Help us to fight bravely and to confess your holy gospel fearlessly in this world until we too will come to the end of our course here on earth and enter your heavenly kingdom. Amen. (Hermann Bezzel)
1. Behold a host, arrayed in white, Like thousand snow-clad mountains bright, With palms they stand. Who is this band Before the throne of light? Lo, these are they of glorious fame Who from the great affliction came And in the flood of Jesus’ blood Are cleansed from guilt and blame. Now gathered in the holy place, Their voices they in worship raise, Their anthems swell where God doth dwell, Mid angels’ songs of praise.
2. Despised and scorned, they sojourned here; But now, how glorious they must appear! Those martyrs stand a priestly band, God’s throne forever near. So oft, in troubled days gone by, In anguish they would weep and sigh, At home above the God of Love For aye their tears shall dry. They now enjoy their Sabbath rest, The paschal banquet of the blest; The Lamb, their Lord, at festal board Himself is Host and Guest.
3. Then hail, ye mighty legions, yea, All hail! Now safe and blest for aye, And praise the Lord, who with His Word Sustained you on the way. Ye did the joys of earth disdain, Ye toiled and sowed in tears and pain. Farewell, now bring your sheaves and sing Salvation’s glad refrain. Swing high your palms, lift up your song, Yea, make it myriad voices strong, Eternally shall praise to Thee, God, and the Lamb belong. (Hans Adolf Brorson, c. 1760)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for the 2nd January during the high holiday of Christmas. This was the day he died in 1872. It is found on Pg. 43 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.