Advent: December 21

Revelation 21:9-21

One of the seven angels … came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.

The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. … The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

John is shown the New Jerusalem – a place of unutterable beauty, created from the most precious of materials. Might this ostentatious wealth and these conspicuous riches be a little bit too much for us? I think not, for perhaps they are not for us.. We see echoes of this extravagance in the construction of the Temple by Solomon. Surely only the very best is appropriate for God?

This city is very, very large. 1,400 miles wide and long. Square up Africa and you’ll have a rough idea of the size. Now imagine all that space being laid with gold and encrusted with precious stones. We talk casually about the pearly gates, but each gate is a pearl – some oyster! Remember that John is trying to describe heavenly things as well as he can understand them, while using earthly language.

This place is to be the new dwelling place of God. Those who share heaven with him will have access not only to this city through its gates but, I can only assume, to the whole of the new earth.

Now, outside the Holy City we may see a vast space (there’ll be no more seas or oceans taking up land mass) in which we may move or rest. I am expecting that the “natural” beauty of Eden to be found there, and we, striving against nature to maintain our earthly gardens and allotments, might have questions to ask: who cuts the grass in Eden? Will there be weeds? Will there be rain for the trees, flowers, fruit and vegetables? Will they need sowing and thinning and pruning? Will leaves fall and need gathering? Will dropped fruit rot? Do I have to guard against slugs? Will there be any work for me to do? Can I play golf?

Should our churches be like temples?

Will I need gardening gloves and secateurs?

How will my first golf round go? And the second? And the thousandth?

Father God, your new Jerusalem is way beyond my comprehension. I cannot imagine its wealth and beauty, but it will be a fit place for your habitation, and a joy for those whom you have invited to share it with you. Amen.

Possibly the craziest graphics I’ve seen, but a good song

Precious stones