“Jerusalem, Jerusalem—Sing for the night is o’er …”
Iwiped the tears from my eyes as the Oakwood University Aeolians punctuated the fifty-ninth General Conference session’s final program with a burst of triumphant confidence. Tens of thousands around me in the darkened Georgia Dome whispered the words that we expect to sing someday, gathered in the City of Light:
“Hosanna in the highest; hosanna forevermore!”
Tomorrow, God willing, we would pack up our belongings, board buses, trains, and airplanes, and return to the thousands of places attendees call “home.” Fortunate ones like me might be there in only a few hours. Others would take days, perhaps even weeks, to complete the circuit that had brought them from halfway ’round the world to Atlanta.
But for tonight—for this last and lingering moment—we stood in our imaginations on that sea that looks like glass, and measured the distance from Atlanta to the New Jerusalem with the short chronology of hope, and with measuring rods marked in meters and yards, not kilometers and miles.
This is what faith does: instructed and assured by the promises of Jesus, it leaps forward to stand—to rejoice—in a reality it does not yet fully see, but which it has already begun to enjoy.
The world outside the Georgia Dome was demonstrably dark: even the headlines of a sunny Sunday morning would tell familiar tales of war and greed, earthquakes and hurricanes, heartbreak in a million private settings. But faith always fixes its eyes on the place where Jesus is, and judges all things—including the massive challenges still facing this remnant people—by the certainty of how it all will end. God’s church needs—requires—moments such as these when our sacred imaginations arc across the interval until Jesus comes, and celebrate the final “It is finished” of our salvation.
In the pages of this edition of Adventist World, we bring you some of the experiences and images that strengthened our faith during the recent General Conference session in Atlanta. As you turn these pages, turn your thoughts to the soon-coming reality of a gathering where the chorus will be measured not in dozens but in millions, and where the joy will never end.