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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Today's Scripture Reading | Revelation 21:22–27

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And 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. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But 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. (NRSV)

The images of the end times are very evocative in the book of Revelation. Picturing what eternal life with God in Christ will be like, the author is imaginative and poetic. Two of these images struck me as I returned to these words.

First of all, the setting of eternal life is portrayed as the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city, the city of God. While paradise in the second story is pictured as a garden, the end times will be urban and communal. All the people of every nation will be drawn to the city of God. In my travels along Wacker or the Riverwalk here in Chicago, I hear many different languages being spoken by tourists from all over the world, as well as by other Chicagoans. What a foretaste of our promised future in the presence of God!

A second image is even more specific. In the heavenly city there will be no closed gates. The everyday practice with which the first readers of Revelation were likely familiar would have been to open the gates of the city to commerce and travel in the morning, closing them at dusk for safety and security. I think of a nearby housing complex with its heavy metal gates that only open slowly after cars and pedestrians have been approved. In the city of God, all the gates will be permanently open, welcoming all.

May these images guide our journey as God’s people toward that promised day.

Eternal God, I give you thanks and praise for the glimpses you grant us of our final destination, gathered with all your people in your presence. May we walk together toward your promised city, where the gates are always open and everyone is welcome. I pray in the name of Jesus, our friend and traveling companion. Amen.

Written by Jeff Doane, Parish Associates for Older Adults

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