"Rejoice, O pilgrim throng! Rejoice, give thanks, and sing; Your festal banner wave on high, The cross of Christ your King, Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice, give thanks, and sing!
"Still lift your standard high, Still march in firm array, As pilgrims through the darkness wend, Till dawns the golden day. Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice, give thanks, and sing!"
When we think of pilgrims, a ship called the Mayflower and the early Puritan settlers may come to mind, or perhaps the medieval pilgrims who traveled across Europe to visit sacred shrines. But we are pilgrims, too, the people of God on the move. Together with our fellow believers we "march in firm array," like an army advancing with and under the banner of the cross.
Like the pilgrims we remember at Thanksgiving, we are on the way to a new place, a new home. Like the medieval pilgrims, we are marching toward a sacred place, a place of glory. As these earlier pilgrims walked the dusty trails on this earth, we too travel the road of life, the path on which God has placed us. Saved by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we are on our way to our eternal home, to live forever in our Savior's presence.
We march under the sign of the cross and, at times, we also bear the cross as we wend our way "through the darkness." But through light and darkness we follow our living Lord Jesus. He carried His cross for our sake and for our salvation and now—having overcome the darkness of sin and death—He always goes before us; He's always with us. As pilgrims often do, while we march we rejoice, "singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in our hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16).
We are on our way to a sacred place, our heavenly home, and to a time when time will end as "dawns the golden day," the eternal day lived in the presence of our God and Savior. He has created for us this beautiful earthly home in which we now live, through which we now travel. Even though we feel at home here, and rightly so, we know that we are not yet truly home, because we are "strangers and exiles on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13). We are strangers and exiles—pilgrims always moving forward—because like the saints of old we "desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one" (Hebrews 11:16). So we continue on our way, lifting high the standard of the cross. And as we go, we rejoice, give thanks, and sing, because we are homeward bound, under the banner of Christ our King!
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, go before us and guide our steps on this pilgrim way. We pray, too, that You would bless our witness so that others might join us on the journey. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Rejoice, O Pilgrim Throng," which is found on page 813 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Do you have favorite songs to sing when you praise and worship God?
2. Have you ever written a song of devotion or reflection about spiritual things?
3. Have you ever shared a Christian song with someone who was surprised at the song's melody or lyrical content?
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