The music was a majestic march, a processional, (One does not play a waltz for a procession!) as solemn-faced marchers held tightly to the poles that carried the banners down the aisles of the sanctuary. Each banner proclaimed a different name of God:
- King of Kings
- Lord of Lords
- Mighty God
- Prince of Peace
This was praise on the march—a moving revelation of the character of Almighty God. The attention of the people was focused and expanded all at once by the combination of musical and visual praise.
God was glorified in the procession. As the Music Minister who put it all together, I felt I had done my job.
Life is full of processions.
The root word is process—a systematic procedure—a step-by-step sequence of events, of actions, of thoughts, each leading seamlessly to the next until the destination is reached.
When we march in the procession—that is, when we engage the process—things tend to work out for us. Events happen in their course; they are well planned and well brought off. When we short-circuit the process—that is, when we get out of step or take a short-cut in the procession, unnecessary problems crop up that distract us and delay our arrival at the destination.
The poet proclaims his intention of joining the worship procession:
“I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord, that I may go in procession round your altar, singing aloud a song of thanksgiving and recounting all your wonderful deeds.”
Life, like worship, requires preparation. The choir and orchestra that played the processional had to rehearse for that moment. The banner bearers had to practice their posture and route through the church. They prepared for much longer than the time it took to perform.
And so it is with life—preparation for the procession qualifies us to march in peace.
How can we “wash our hands in innocence?” Not based on our own record, but in faith in the innocence of Christ. Sinless was He on the cross bearing our sins. Christ is both our process and our destination.
We should hear His music and get in step today—it isn’t a waltz—it is a march of victory.
Give judgment for me, O Lord, for I have lived with integrity; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and my mind. For your love is before my eyes; I have walked faithfully with you. I have not sat with the worthless, nor do I consort with the deceitful. I have hated the company of evildoers; I will not sit down with the wicked. I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord, that I may go in procession round your altar, Singing aloud a song of thanksgiving and recounting all your wonderful deeds. Lord, I love the house in which you dwell and the place where your glory abides. Do not sweep me away with sinners, nor my life with those who thirst for blood, Whose hands are full of evil plots, and their right hand full of bribes. As for me, I will live with integrity; redeem me, O Lord, and have pity on me. My foot stands on level ground; in the full assembly I will bless the Lord.
Psalm 42:1-6 NIV
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 68:24-26 NIV
Your procession has come into view, O God, the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary. In front are the singers, after them the musicians; with them are the maidens playing tambourines. Praise God in the great congregation; praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel.
Psalm 118:26-29 NIV
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.
We’re Marching to Zion
Text: Isaac Watts; Music Robert Lowry
1. Come, we that love the Lord, and let our joys be known;
join in a song with sweet accord, join in a song with sweet accord
and thus surround the throne, and thus surround the throne.
We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion;
we’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God
2. Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God;
but children of the heavenly King, but children of the heavenly King
may speak their joys abroad, may speak their joys abroad.
3. The hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets
before we reach the heavenly fields, before we reach the heavenly fields,
or walk the golden streets, or walk the golden streets.
4. Then let our songs abound, and every tear be dry;
we’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground,
we’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground,
to fairer worlds on high, to fairer worlds on high.
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved