Last week I discussed the importance of symbols in our lives. Here is a potent symbol in Community of Christ: Zion.
In our “Virtual Visiting Fellowship” groups this week we have discussed Zion, with a focus on four hymns from Community of Christ Sings. These included (with selected lines):
#386, “The Cause of Zion Summons Us,” by Geoffrey Spencer
“The cause of Zion prophecies the future yet to be,
When men and women everywhere shall walk in dignity.
We now anticipate the day when pain and tears shall cease,
When humankind shall live as one in righteousness and peace.”
#622, “Send Forth Your Light, O Zion,” by Roy A. Cheville
“Send forth your life, O Zion! Not for yourself alone
Have come life-giving powers by which the soul has grown.
Your promise builds a people well-skilled in mind and hand.
Your life is like a leaven of hope in every land.”
We also looked at these two hymns:
#381, “Come Now, Sound the Call of Zion,” written by Eric Selden
#390, “Onward to Zion,” by Frederick M. Smith
Other hymns with Zionic themes were referenced by members of the groups.
The idea of Zion has been a beacon and a guiding light through most of the church’s existence. Joseph Smith, Jr., first identified Zion as a city in the prophet Enoch’s time in section 36 of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. It was described as the “city of holiness” and was said to have been taken up into heaven in its entirety. Thus, it became a goal to recreate Zion on earth.
What has been your experience with the notion of Zion? Is this actually a new term for you? Or might you have family members who “gathered to Zion” (i.e., Independence, Missouri – the “Centre Place of Zion”) at some point in the past? Perhaps you are old enough to remember the rare references to Zion in the 1980s and 1990s. (No particular reason for that – it just seemed to happen.) Perhaps you have been pleased to see a somewhat renewed emphasis on Zion as a concept and goal, but something that represents community wherever it can be established, not a limited location.
Room does not permit a greater discussion of Zion. Let me just encourage you to consider what it might mean to you. There are many resources published by the church – some current, some rather old and historic. Let me know if you would like to be pointed in the direction of anything specific.
I will close with these two comparatively recent references to Zion from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.
This compelling and motivational verse is often missed as it is the closing verse of section 156, which authorized both the ordination of women and the planning for construction of the Temple:
Dear Saints, have courage for the task which is yours in bringing to pass the cause of Zion. Prepare yourselves through much study and earnest prayer. Then, as you go forth to witness of my love and my concern for all persons, you will know the joy which comes from devoting yourselves completely to the work of the kingdom. To this end will my Spirit be with you. Amen.
Section 156:11:a,b; given through Wallace B. Smith, President of the Church Independence, Missouri, April 3, 1984
And this verse is possibly responsible for the “rebirth” of the concept of Zion as a prominent feature in Community of Christ:
Heed the urgent call to become a global family united in the name of the Christ, committed in love to one another, seeking the kingdom for which you yearn and to which you have always been summoned. That kingdom shall be a peaceable one and it shall be known as Zion.
Section 161:6b; given through President W. Grant McMurray, April 2000.
It is my prayer that our movement may always look towards developing the “spiritual conditions” (see D.&C. section 140:5c) that will bring the ideals of Zion closer.
As always, I pray for you God’s blessings of joy, hope, love, and peace in these challenging times.
Canada West Mission Centre President
community of christ
355 Elmira Road North, Unit 129
Guelph, ON N1K 1S5 Canada
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