May 15th, 2022 – “New heavens, new earth”

God in person
2022-05-15 Fifth Sunday of Easter 11:00 AM - "“Water from the throne of heaven”

Dear all,

Tomorrow, one of our texts is taken from the final book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. It looks towards the end things and provides a fitting conclusion to the Biblical story that begins with the creation. The possibility of an afterlife was not a subject of great concern in  ancient Israel.  There are no references to a life after death in the Torah (the first five books of Old Testament) and very few after that.  That is why talk about resurrection was controversial in Jesus’ day, many hundreds of years later. Some believed in a general resurrection of the righteous at the end of present age.  Other’s dismissed it as a foreign innovation.  

Some of the surrounding cultures speculated that the soul survived the death of the body to be reincarnated in another physical form. The ultimate hope, however,  was liberation from the endless cycle of suffering in the material world by uniting with the undifferentiated cosmic One,  in which desire, self and personhood were all absorbed and extinguished.  The idea of disembodied human souls migrating to some-other worldly realm implies detachment and contempt for this world

Jewish notions of the age to come were very different. They were world affirming, so the world to come looks much like the present one, except purged of the evil that warps and distorts and misshapes it. The physical, material world is affirmed as good rather than shunned as a place of corruption and suffering from which souls seek escape. God declared it good in the creation.  Rather than material reality, per se, the problem was evil. The solution required was God’s judgment to separate the good from the pollution of evil, as He had separated light from darkness at creation. Christianity adopted this view of things from Judaism, albeit with a twist. We believe that the destiny of the righteous is anticipated in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Jesus is at the centre of the story, the first fruits of a great harvest and our window into God’s future. 

In the vision,  God descends to earth. “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” This descent to earth reminds us of a previous one, the baby born in Bethlehem. Just as Jesus revealed in the flesh God’s presence and glory, so the whole earth will be filled with the divine glory. This vision of the future that John shares with is like the crystal clear water that flows from the throne of God and sustains life. “To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”

Order of Service

SUNDAY, May 15, 2022
Hymn 321: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”
Prayer of Adoration
Prayer of Confession
Declaration of Grace and Lord’s Prayer
Responsive reading: Psalm 148
Revelation 21: 1-6
Anthem: “City called Heaven” (Marian Anderson)
John 13: 31-35
Hymn 106: “Let all creation bless the Lord”
Sermon: “Water from the throne of heaven”
Hymn: “Jerusalem the Golden”
Offering and Offertory
Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Hymn 371 : “Love Divine, all loves excelling”
“Go Now in Peace”