Toorak Uniting Church

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A city to dream of…

Revelation 21: 10, 22 – 22: 5
Rev. Anneke Oppewal
16 May 2004

John, on Patmos, is dreaming. He dreams he’s carried away to a mountain and shown the holy city of Jerusalem coming down from heaven from God.

A heavenly city where the access to God is so very easy that temples and churches are no longer necessary. Where sun and moon and other lights have become superfluous because God and Jesus light up the day and the night in such a way that other sources of light are no longer necessary. The Kings of the earth coming to it, bringing the glory and honour of their nations into it. Nothing unclean in it, no atrocities, no lying, but only those who are in the book of life.

A dream indeed.

A dream that may fill those of you who follow the news and have seen the pictures published in the paper over the last few weeks about atrocities in Iraq with sadness and longing.
A dream that is so very far removed from the actuality of life in and round Jerusalem right now it could make one cry….

If only a city like that could exist!

Right now even dreaming about it may seem difficult. We who are bombarded with evidence that humans will turn into vicious animals given half a chance and the cynical feeling that if one war stops another one will crop up somewhere else. Jerusalem the city that has been the centre of dispute for well over 6000 years.

How’s that ever going to change????

John sees a city coming down from heaven. Well, it is hard to imagine such a city could come to pass in any other way is it?

Coming down from heaven is a city with a clear river in it flowing straight from the throne of God. A river full of the life giving stuff Jesus talked about to the woman at the well in the gospel of John. Not a trickle, not a brook, but a river flowing bright as crystal, from the throne, through the city and out.
On either side a tree of life. Not just one, like there was in Paradise, but two, just to show the abundance of life in that city, bearing different kinds of fruit, every month of the year. With healing leaves that will heal the nations.
No night, no darkness, just the light of God and Jesus Christ shining in and through all.

If only we could believe that that could become true!

Well, right, that is just it you see. If we did believe it, it would happen. It would start to happen here and now. As it has done in the lives of many that read this dream of John over the ages and made it their own.

John believed it was going to happen: Watch he says it will be coming soon, it will happen before we know it. God won’t wait long. And John lived, a life against the tide. Prophesying on Patmos, giving people hope, dreaming dreams that would help others to go on in spite of persecution and difficulty. Dreams that would help Christianity grow in those first few centuries.
It made me think of Nelson Mandela on Robben Island, who would just not give up believing that there would be an end to apartheid. And there was.
And many other big names spend their lives living out their dreams, seeing some of it beginning to happen in their lifetimes.
But not only the big names, the projects that make the news. We ourselves experience it when we live our dream and see some of it come true. When one of "our" asylum seekers manages to get one step further in the long process of being given a visa for instance. When we work for change and somehow, sometimes to our own surprise things work and a little bit of Kingdom is born in our midst.
It happens. And although our city is still nowhere near the city we dream off, there are moments, signs, that there are in actual fact places where this dream comes true, right here and right now. Signs, moments that can help us dream on and trust that God, from his side, is working on it as well and that if we stay connected to him, take our light and life from Him that city will come down from heaven, with life giving water flowing from the throne, with the tree of life offering its fruits in abundance, healing our lives and the lives of the nations. Amen.

© Rev. Anneke Oppewal, 2004

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