Remember the Lord afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind. (Jeremiah 51,50)
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2.Corinthians 5:6-7)
Exiles dream of home. Probably somewhat more than those already there. Be it the Russian nobility in Paris, the Jews in New York or even those Zimbabweans in Johannesburg and the Tamils in the Arab lands. These habits of refugees to dream, recall and remember have not changed dramatically over the centuries and even millennia. The Prophet Jeremiah encourages the exiles far away from Jerusalem and separated from the holy temple of the living God to not forget these and not to follow the sad saying: Out of sight, out of mind!
Christians are conscious migrants too. Far away from home and always on the way getting there. For all roads may not lead to Rome, but they surely do lead to our final destination – the last day, the final judgement and our eternal home. Obviously that includes all people and not just Christians, but the latter acknowledge the fact and they are anticipating the return of their Lord to bring them back home sooner or later. This does an experiential value nor is it verifiable either. It is based on the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ, who encouraged his disciples: I am going ahead to prepare your place in heaven. And we believe, that where the head is, there the limbs must be too.
Throughout our lives he continues to keep this faith alive and going. He hears and answers our prayers. He’s with us to edify and support us throughout even if we are but 2 or 3. He’s promised to be with us all the days until the very end of the earth. In the meantime he talks to us through his holy word and feeds us with celestial food of his very body and most precious blood. So that we will not forget him, but live in constant fellowship and union with him – here and forever.
Even though we know, where we are coming from (We are God’s creatures/causa efficiens) and where we are going (We are destined for eternal life with him to see, praise and abide with him always/causa finalis), we live our lives here and now accordingly. We know this is but an interim. We are but in the diaspora. We are not there yet. However we are getting there – and that’s why we do all and everything here and now out of gratitude to him, making best use of our time and doing what comes before us – helping those, who need it most and attending to that, which is most important and necessary. Praying that our exodus will not be in winter and that our God will remember his promise, that he will even in the final persecution take good care of us + Thank God, that he has prepared the way for us and the eternal abode in heaven too. We are not homeless, but just on the way getting there – even if we don’t see it yet, he will get us there – by grace and for Christ’s sake. Amen.
“Jesus, Lead Thou On” Cento by Christian Gregor, 1723-1801
Translated by Jane Borthwick, 1813-1897
1. Jesus, lead Thou on
Till our rest is won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow calm and fearless.
Guide us by Thy hand
To our fatherland.
2. If the way be drear,
If the foe be near,
Let not faithless fears o’ertake us;
Let not faith and hope forsake us;
For through many a woe
To our home we go.
3. When we seek relief
From a long-felt grief;
When temptations come alluring,
Make us patient and enduring;
Show us that bright shore
Where we weep no more.
4. Jesus, lead Thou on
Till our rest is won.
Heavenly Leader, still direct us,
Still support, control, protect us,
Till we safely stand
In our fatherland.
The Lutheran Hymnal #410 Text: Luke 5:11 Author: Cento by Christian Gregor, 1778
Translated by: Jane Borthwick, 1854, alt. Titled: “Jesu, geh voran” Composer: Adam Drese, 1697 Tune: “Seelenbraeutigam”