We have now been celebrating Easter for six Sundays, celebrating the resurrection of Christ, and the defeat of death. During this time we have heard quite a few readings from the book of Revelation (Apocalypse), and most of this book centres on the victory of Christ. We are called to rejoice in the victory that Christ has won for us and to look forward to the great reward that he wants to share with those who love him. Often, we can find ourselves overscheduled and too busy to ponder exactly what has been achieved by Christ and the importance of the heavenly invitation that Christ extends to us.
In the second reading from the book of Revelations for the 6th Sunday of Easter we hear about our heavenly home that has been won for us by Christ. The passage that is read to us provides images of beauty, majesty, and security, it is the heavenly Jerusalem, the eternal city of peace. There are twelve gates for this city, three stationed on each of its four sides. This invokes an image of people come from all places and the number of gates invokes an understanding that all of humanity is called to reside here, by accepting the invitation of the victorious Lamb (Jesus) who has died for us.
If you have ever seen a scale model of the biblical city of Jerusalem, in the time of the Second Temple, the Temple Mount and the Temple are the structures that dominate the city. They would have been a true marvel of their age and the thing that would have been most memorable for those who visited Jerusalem. Yet, in the vision of the New Jerusalem there is no temple, “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple” (Rev 21:22) This invokes an image of a person taking pride of place in a city rather than a structure. This also reveals the true personal nature of the worship that will occur in Heaven, it will be a deeply personal communion with God, a completion of the relationship that we begin to foster here on Earth. In the New Jerusalem we will be immersed in the light and love of God, a light that is uncreated and all embracing. This is what Christ fought for, so that we can truly share in his divine life. This is a truly magnificent invitation that Christ extends to the people of God and the true fulfilment of our Easter celebrations.
Fr Tony King-Archer