Week 35: End of August / early September
One of the Giancarlo Spannacini's favorite songs in the Italian Nazarene hymnal is number 137, "Non più Morte, Non più Duolo."
When I gave time in the Florence, Italy church services for the congregation to select a favorite song or chorus, inevitably Giancarlo would immediately be saying, "Centotrentasette" (one hundred and thirty seven).
It's a song about heaven based on Revelation 21:4. One of the verses has a phrase which says, "no more death, no more pain for the redeemed of the Lord." In fact, it's from this phrase that the song gets its title.
I think Giancarlo had a special reason for wanting to sing this song often. You see, he suffered from an hereditary muscular disease which was gradually destroying his body. At 40 years of age, he walked with great difficulty (usually leaning on his mother Olga) and his speech was impaired.
But Giancarlo knew he was a child of the King. And he knew that one day this old world -- which is so full of death, of disease, of sorrow, of pain -- will pass away to be replaced by a perfect new world. Giancarlo planned to be a part of that glorious new earth. [ Missionary stories from Italy ]
Years ago my favorite Christian musical had a song in it based on Revelation 21:4. It's a part of "This Same Jesus," a cooperative effort of the musical geniuses of Paul Skiles and Paul Mickelson.
I was privileged to be present for the premier performance of this musical at what is now Nazarene Youth Congress (NYC) held that year in Estes Park, Colorado. I remember that Sunday evening well. My work as a conference staff member had kept me from arriving early for the service. By the time I got there, all the seats were already taken, so I found myself a supporting pillar at the back of the tabernacle to lean against.
When that nearly 1,000 voice youth choir arrived at the description of heaven from Revelation 21 and began to sing, "There will be no sorrow over there... there will be no dying over there." I found myself weeping with anticipation and joy and thankfulness along with the rest of the congregation.
The live recording of that service was one of the treasures of my record collection. I say "was" because I played that vinyl record so many times that it inevitably was damaged to the point of being no longer playable.
Certainly, God has promised us a glorious future. John's vision in the last two chapters of Revelation is that the world will end where it began -- with Creation. Only it is a new creation, a perfect Paradise where Christians will reign in and through Christ.
What a glowing picture John paints of the marvelous quality of life that will be ours in the future new heaven and new earth.
God will "dwell" (in all the fullness of that word) among His people, having restored to us all the original glories and privileges of His life with man. We will be a part of the endless reign of Christ in a state of absolute justice, purity and bliss.
I can hardly wait. What about you?
These devotional thoughts by Howard Culbertson appeared in the August 31, 1980 edition of Standard
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132
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