Revelation 21:10, 22 - 22:1-5
10And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.
22 I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Easter Day 36 or the Sixth Sunday of Easter! Easter is 50 days, a week of weeks, 7x7. The Easter season began with accounts that mostly featured people who followed Jesus during his earthly ministry. As the weeks rolled by, the stories reached further outward, and began introducing and embracing people from other places and cultures. Two weeks from now we'll celebrate the 50th day of Easter, the Day of Pentecost (wear red!) that initiates the long Season of the Spirit/ Time of the Church liturgical season, with its mostly green Sundays.
We've been discussing Revelation as a kind of guidebook for living baptized amidst empire. Last week we talked about a God so in love with creation God chose and still chooses to live with and to indwell creation; a God so passionate about creation God even chose to live amidst creation as one of us in a body formed out of the stuff of the earth. Last week Revelation 21:3 told us God makes a home on earth, using the same word for live or dwell as in John 1:14 – "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Late Pastor Eugene Peterson says God pitched a tent, because the Greek word for dwell is tabernacle, a portable shelter you can carry with you, as God's people Israel did with the Ark of the Covenant.
Genesis 1 and 2, the first books in the canon of the bible bring us the original creation with:
• tree of life
• river of life
• a garden
Revelation, the last book in the biblical canon, bring us the new creation with:
• tree of life
• river of life
• a city (is this a new Garden of Eden? Not quite.)
Today's text from Revelation pictures a city literally descending from heaven. A city of safety, a place that welcomes and includes everyone. Everyone is an insider to God and in the City of God; God has no outsiders! This city's gates always are open; this city is light and bright all the time, without the fearsome dangers night and darkness in an urban area often bring. God's presence permeates and lights the city. As God's people filled with the Spirit of Life, our presence in the city and wherever else we venture permeates and lights our surroundings.
Some City Characteristics
• ethnic and cultural and income diversity
• buildings of every kind – someone pointed out those structures are fixed in place, anchored to the ground. Especially in California we're very aware building codes keep getting revised so they will stay where they're supposed to when earth quakes and shakes (which it will)
• infrastructure that includes "streets and roads," educational, sports, entertainment, social, and other services
• cash economy (includes credit, debit, and investment options) rather than a barter economy
• home of the go-between (formerly "middleman," lol) or broker who arranges transactions between entities
• a literal crossroads with multiple land, air, water ports of entry. Most cities are built along a waterway.
• many kinds of fusions: language; music; cuisine; home and individual fashion
• cultural appropriation? Nah! Mostly cultural appreciation!
Maybe especially because of my wonderful Tree of Life art of the worship bulletin cover quoting Revelation 22:2, The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations, we discussed healing leaves, trees, shrubs, branches, and herbs and never got to my intended mention of a parallel passage in Ezekiel 47:1-12.