By Amber Noel

A Reading from Psalm 87

1    On the holy mountain stands the city he has founded;
the LORD loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

2    Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of our God.

3    I count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me;
behold Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia:
in Zion were they born.

4    Of Zion it shall be said, “Everyone was born in her,
and the Most High himself shall sustain her.”

5    The LORD will record as he enrolls the peoples,
“These also were born there.”

6    The singers and the dancers will say,
“All my fresh springs are in you.”


What is Zion? The image is rich, and when we hear it, it should be — as the psalmist obviously intends — richly evocative.

Zion is a mount, but also a city. It is a pinnacle, a paragon. If “all the dwellings of Jacob” are precious stones, Zion is the flawless diamond, the crown jewel.

What is Zion?

In today’s gospel reading from John, Jesus says, “I am the way… the life.” Elsewhere in John he reveals, “I am the gate” — the gate of the sheepfold. But if we also find God’s people, his sheep, in Zion, then Christ is also the gates of Zion. He is the Doorway God loves, God’s own self, God’s own beloved Son, the embodiment of his judgment and hospitality. All life, all culture, all people who want to call themselves living, must re-receive the gift of their origins, the re-writing of their identity, in Christ. Through him, citizenship to Zion is offered to all who were once strangers and enemies.

What is Zion? It is human being and human civilization alive in the life of God. First it is Christ; then it is everyone else who will receive his Sonship.

And notice who are the first to recognize it: the singers and dancers. Artists are often attuned before the rest of us to realities that have yet to be fully manifested. We don’t yet see Zion in her full splendor; but where in music, painting, poetry, cooking, short stories, sculpture, or performance have you felt that longing for Zion, or caught a shining glimpse of her? Give God thanks today for the arts, and for the city he has founded. Pray for an artist today, and for the flourishing of Zion.

Amber Noel, M.Div., is Associate Editor at the Living Church and Associate Director of The Living Church Institute. Off the clock, she is the author of short fiction, book and culture reviews, and work for the stage.

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Today we pray for:

Diocese of Abakaliki (Nigeria)
Diocese of the Rio Grande


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