Harmony Plains 2016 is just around the corner. Oh what joy to anticipate a week of respite from a frenzied and frantic world. We all desire a perfect world and struggle with the fact that the address where we live is anything but perfect. So we plan much, hope much, and dream much, yet at the same time groan much, and cry much because we are not perfect, no other person is perfect, and the world is not perfect. Singing at HPSS for a whole week, however, reminds us of the joys of heaven and a perfect world to come.
We long for heaven because we have heaven programmed into us. Adolescent, your angst; parent, your toddler’s whimper; empty nester, your if onlys; employer/employee, your frustrations; and mourner, your despair, are all a cry for heaven. Heaven is more than a dream; it is the spiritual longing in the here and now.
Of course this is not always a conscious awareness; I am just saying the longing and hunger for paradise is part of being God’s children. We cannot escape the desire for heaven; it is downloaded into our very essence. It is not just a matter of the doctrine we believe; it is a matter of who we are. This is why each of us struggle, why we groan for eternity. Romans 8:18-27.
We believe in the afterlife; the problem is that it is not functionally the way we live the everyday life. We live in a constant state of heaven forgetfulness, when life is to be structured in the here and now by a heaven rememberness. Heaven is not pondered, discussed, or noticed in magazines, media, universities, or at work. The joy of one week of singing praises can help this.
Heaven is not a category that our culture takes seriously. The impact is seismic. News casts do not close with, “Nevertheless, this is not all there is; we anticipate eternity where all will be righted”. In our culture the impact of heaven is not correlated to emotions, behavior, or our mental state. This is not just tragic; it is debilitating.
The now was intended to be lived in the constant awareness of the hereafter. Heaven bound people travel earth’s roads, but they must breathe heaven’s air. The heaven of our destination must rule over the earthliness of present situation. Did you ever see a fish swimming in a tree, or a bird perched under water? Just as that will never work, it will never work for us to live in an atmosphere unmindful of heaven.
Our song for Harmony Plains 2016 will be “Hark! Ten Thousand Harps,” OSH #11, hymn 32. The HPSS theme for 2016 is “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” Harmony Plains’ text for 2016 is Revelation 5:11-13. Thomas Kelly, reflecting upon this passage, captured the need for us to immerse ourselves in heaven thoughts when he wrote this hymn. He knew as Christians we must reflect upon the anticipated bliss of heaven—Jesus reigning, the Lord smiling, grace enduring, and all rejoicing (see the hymn’s themes).
With the eye of imagination he saw the thrilling scene in heaven with ten thousands times ten thousands giving praise to Christ for His victorious redemption. The thrust of this hymn though, is not just that someday we redeemed will join that heavenly chorus, but that our occupation now is singing “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! “Glory, glory to our King!” This is a heavenly minded triumphal hymn for the here and now.
“Hark! ten thousand harps and voices sound the notes of praise above; Jesus reigns and heav’n rejoices; Jesus reigns, the God of love. See, He sits on yonder throne: Jesus rules the world alone. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Jesus rules the world alone.”
“King of glory, reign forever! Thine an everlasting crown. Nothing from Thy love shall sever those whom Thou hast made Thine own: Happy objects of Thy grace, destined to behold Thy face. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Destined to behold Thy face.”
Glory to our King,