Her Gates Will Never Be Shut
When we were in England last week, we visited Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the church where none other than William Shakespeare was both married and buried.
I've been to this particular church at least four times in my life, but this time was different. There's been a lot on my mind lately. This past summer has been a season when I have found myself struggling to understand what God is up to--probably more than any other season in my life.
On top of all of the craziness in my own life, the world seems to be going stark, raving mad, doesn't it? Every single day there are more stories on the news of violence, war, strife and tragedies of all kinds. It can get to you if you dwell on it too much.
So while we were inside of the Holy Trinity Church, an announcement was made that there would be a Scripture reading from the Daily Lectionary.
An old Englishman stood at an ancient lectern and began reading from Revelation chapter 21, which describes the new heaven and the new earth that will come to pass when Jesus is fully revealed at the end of all things.
When he got to these verses, I felt tears well up in my eyes:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”The word that came to me in that moment was "hope." It overwhelmed me. I stood there in that ancient church, where millions of worshippers and pilgrims had sat, stood, knelt or even lain prostrate on the worn stone floor. And I thought about how many of those same people had wondered about their future, and the future of their world.
And the same message that came to them, came to me. There will be a day when all things will be made right. And on that day all of us, from all times and places will be made complete as well.
When the old Englishman reached the end of Revelation 21, he read these words:
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.That last line got me, and I found myself choked up and full of emotion. "On no day will [the City of God's] gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there." No war. No violence. No hatred. No evil. No need for security. No thought to safety. No darkness because the Light of the World will have finally overcome it once and for all.
Let us hope then, because our hope is stronger than death, stronger than the darkness. Let us hope because when we do, we are connected to the saints from all time and space who dare to dream of a world made right through none other than Jesus.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.