Posted on Thu, Jul 8, 2010
Sermon for May 9, 2010
No More Night
Rev. Jim Merritt
Trinity MCC Gainesville
May 9, 2010
Last Sunday we took our first adventure into the book of Revelation. We were reminded that God is building a new heaven and a new earth and a new city for all God’s people clothed in the garment of salvation; the garment of love. I particularly loved two comments I received. The first was, “You took the woo woo out of it,” and the second was, and I’m paraphrasing here, “When you started saying I was included I really got it this time and I was blown away.” That tells me we’re on the track, so I’ve been looking forward to this second sermon from Revelation all week. Let’s see what God has for us this morning as we continue our study. Once again, I am relying heavily on the work of Wilfrid J. Harrington in his Sacra Pagina volume on Revelation.
Chapter 22 is the last chapter of the book of Revelation. It gives us a wonderful and glorious image of this new Jerusalem, this new city located high on the mountain. In order to get a clear view, it is important for us to remember what the Hebrew Bible book of Ezekiel says in chapter 40, verse two. Some believe that the apostle was taken up onto a mountain from which he could see the city. When we consider the Ezekiel reading along with this one from Revelation, it becomes clear that the writer is referring to “the mountain of God” and that the city is actually built on that mountain. So, the apostle is being escorted through the city by the angel. He is not viewing it from above. And in the previous section one of the angels has shown John Babylon, known as “the great harlot.” Now John is being shown this new Jerusalem, the city of God which represents the entire new Kin-dom of God in contrast. Once again we see John referencing Ezekiel in that his model of Jerusalem is the model described by Ezekiel in prophesy in chapters 40 and 48 of that book. Once again I want to highlight for us how wonderful it is to see the prophesy of the Hebrew Bible fulfilled in the actions of the New Testament. It is no accident that these themes are consistent from Testament to Testament.
Now we get to the part with all these measurements. Why is that important? It is important because the writer is doing his best to help us conceptualize just how grand this city is. He’s trying to help us visualize it in human terms. Note that in Ezekiel the 12 gates are used as exits for the 12 tribes of Israel and now in this new Jerusalem the gates have been transformed into entrances for all the people of God to enter the new city. These gates are welcoming us in, and the writer is trying to help us comprehend just how wonderful this city created by God for the people of God is. I love what Harrington writes about this when he says, “Built of transparent glass with jewels as its foundation stones and pearls for its gates, this city is, indeed, a heavenly city.” Beautiful imagery.
Now here comes the really good part. There is no temple in this city. You might ask, “why is that good?” It’s good because no temple is needed. The presence of the holy one of God permeates the whole city. God is so fully present that there is no longer a need to try to contain God’s presence in a temple or in a sanctuary. God is fully present. More good news, the gates of this city will never be closed by day, “And there will be NO MORE NIGHT. No more night. No more pain. No more tears. Never crying again. And praises to the great "I AM." We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.
See over there, there's a mansion, that's prepared just for me, where I will live with my savior eternally. And there will be No more night. No more pain. No more tears. Never crying
again. And praises to the great "I AM." We will live in the light of the risen Lamb. All praises to the great "I AM." We are going live in the light of the risen Lamb.” Can you just imagine, a city where the gates are always open to all of God’s creation with no exception? And there is no more night because the holy ones of God are fully present there.
I know that many of our lives have been enlightened by the presence of mothers. And let me be clear here that I know many of have also had very difficult experiences of mothers and parents. I always have that in mind on days like today. For me, though, my own mother and many women who have helped mother me have been the light of the holy one in my life. I remember, as some of you have heard, when as a child I would have night terrors, afraid that something or somebody out there was going to get me. I would cry out in the night and my mother would come and escort me to the kitchen and she would pray for God to protect me and let me sleep. Some nights we had to do it several times and somewhere in the night I would fall asleep and the next thing I knew morning would arrive and everything would be ok. That for me represents the light of God.
I remember women like Delores Bradley who attempted in many wonderful ways to mother me when I was in seminary in New Orleans. She was one of God’s lights for me. I remember Exine Grantham to whose house I had an open invitation to Sunday dinner while I was a Pastor in Port Allen, Louisiana. That home to which I could go was one of God’s lights for me even in the weeks while I was preparing to leave the Baptist church and come out fully.
I always remember Vestal Goodman and her music. When she sang, “God Walks the Dark Hills,” I heard my own experience in her songs. When she sang “I Wouldn’t Take Nothin’ for my Journey Now,” I said in my heart, AMEN, Sister. One night in Lakeland, Florida I yelled out to her, “I love you Sister Vestal,” and she responded back, “I love you too, honey,” I knew she meant it because I had read in her autobiography how much she loved her gay fans. She was another one of God’s woman lights to me.
So on this Mothers Day, I honor mothers and I honor women. This statement that I’ve made in many places has brought great response and I say it openly and with deep sincerity again today, “I am one woman loving queer man!” I thank God for all the women who have played important parts in my life. I thank God for all of you women here with you this morning and I wish you a very Happy Mothers Day.
No More Night, no more pain, no more tears, never crying again. An amazingly beautiful city built on the holy mountain of God where the gates are always open to all of God’s beloved creation. Nothing to fear, nothing to dread only praises to the great I AM, because we will live in the light of the risen lamb. Good news for all of us. No more night.
God bless you today. AMEN.
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make God’s face to shine upon us, that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us. May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere our God.
Revelation 21:10 - 22:5
And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The angel who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width; and he measured the city with his rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, one hundred forty-four cubits by human measurement, which the angel was using. The wall is built of jasper, while the city is pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, each of the gates is a single pearl, and the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass. I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 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. The nations will walk by its light, and the rulers of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.