Reflection: 5th Sunday of Easter, May19th 2019
This week’s passage for the Epistle is from the book of Revelation, 21.1-6. Revelation is John’s account of his vision on the island of Patmos. He employs symbolic language and imagery which make it difficult for us to follow. It is worth unpacking John’s message which is both positive and beautiful.
In the new heaven and the new earth the sea is no more. Sea is symbolic of evil and it is an all-embracing symbol. It is the cosmic sea, which separates us from God. God will destroy evil because there is no place for it in heaven. Next John sees the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven from God. This is the holy city cleansed and seen as a bride prepared for her husband. The theme here is one of purity and we are reminded that holiness is required of believers.
Next John hears a great voice from the throne as God exerts His authority over the renewed universe. The voice of God promises continued communion between God and humanity. “Behold the dwelling of God is with men. And He will dwell with them and they shall be His people and God will be with them and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” The word for ‘dwelling’ is the same as the word for a tent, and for the Tabernacle where God dwelt in glory during the wilderness wanderings. So God’s presence among us and His communion with us is an experience of God’s glory. We should look up and adore.
The passage ends with the beautiful picture of God wiping away the tears of humanity, for in the new order there will be no more ‘death nor crying nor mourning’. The vision tells us that God is powerful but caring, glorious and renewing. We are to live holy lives in preparation for heaven where evil is no more.
Rev Dr Calum Gilmour