Longing for the Holy City
And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. . . And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:2, 5
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. . . Its gates will never be shut. . . Revelation 21:23, 25a
The last two chapters of Revelation paint a picture of God’s holy city. It is beautiful, adorned like a bride. Its walls consist of precious stones. The tree of life never ceases bearing fruit. The gates are always open, but nothing evil can enter. At the center is God’s throne, from which the river of life flows. The city is illuminated by God’s holy light. God is served by “a kingdom of priests from every family, language, people and nation.” There is no death, grief or pain. There is no fear, and there is no hate.
How we long for this holy city! Creation groans in a great act of giving birth. We are participants in this labor. God calls us to join in the creation of the holy city filled with God’s light, where the Beloved Community may dwell. There is work for everyone, and the need is quite urgent. Love must defeat hate.
The Presiding Bishop has given us a vision of the Beloved Community. More recently, the church has provided suggestions for each of us to engage in the work of fighting hate and injustice. We must listen to each other, face the painful truths of the church’s participation in the sins of exclusion, and envision a church that is a true Body of Christ where all members are honored. People will speak of many things, and we must discern the spirits of good and evil. Joining in prayer and love, we must seek reconciliation, understanding and justice. We must oppose hate and violence with every means we have while we work to repair the damage that has been done.
According to the Book of Common Prayer (p. 855), the church’s mission is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. The church carries out its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace and love. Renewing our vows of baptism, we promise to persevere In resisting evil, proclaim the Good News by word and example, seek and serve Christ in all persons, and strive for justice and peace (BCP p. 305).
If we trust God’s love, we need not fear that one person’s gain means loss for another. We need not deny the humanity of someone of a different color. We need not struggle for control or dominance over others. We need not use wealth as a measure of superiority. Instead, we must look for God’s presence in everyone we encounter.
Recognizing the divine in each other, we must call to account the unjust social structures that divide us. In God’s holy city, no one lacks food, shelter, education or health care. In the Beloved Community, no one is privileged and no one is rejected. God is in the center, and we see by God’s holy light.