Sixth Sunday of Easter – Epistle

by Bear Wade

Cleanliness Next To Godliness
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Revelation 21:10, 22 — 22:5
Analysis by Marcus Felde

Revelation 21:10 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. 22 I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 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. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 Its gates will never be shut by day-and there will be no night there. 26 People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. 22: 1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

DIAGNOSIS: “In the Shitty [sic] for Good” (Apologies. This is not pretty.)

Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem) – “Foot and Mouth Disease”
Nations watch their borders these days in dread. Prescient planners who decided, for fear of Foot-and-Mouth Disease, not to complete the highway linking South and North America, have been vindicated. Travelers have their shoes scraped at JFK. An abomination is loose upon the globe, and we are afraid. The flip side of the beautiful heavenly city is our experience of dirtiness in the earthly city. (Help me out, here: Didn’t some ancient cities have a channel running down the middle of the street to collect effluent? Might such an image be what gives meaning to the pretty little cascade running down the middle of Celestial Boulevard in 22:2?) Even a superficial diagnosis of this world might find not only earthly things but also behaviors unfit for such surroundings.

Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem) – “No Light”
Again, by inference, there is a city, a world even, which needs streetlights because the sun has gone down. Absent from it are the greater light and the lesser light, absent are the glory of God and the Lamb; this is a city of stumblebums. For lack of faith in the Lamb, its denizens stagger blind up pathless canyons. (I remember one moonless night in Papua New Guinea when it was raining hard as I climbed a pathless hill alone, to my unfamiliar quarters; two hundred feet, feeling the way by clay and sawgrass, with no umbrella and a dead flashlight. I think I cussed.)

Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem) – “Written Off”
“Nothing unclean will enter it” (21:27)! Or, as Lady Macbeth would say, “Out, damned spot!” Exclusion is damnation here. “Nothing accursed will be found there any more” (22:3)? That means anything accursed is lost–out. “Out, damned spot!” indeed (and “spot” is not a dog but is the place where God is not). As my mother would say, “You’re not coming in here looking like that!” To put it plainly: the unclean and accursed are written off.

PROGNOSIS: “In the City for Good”

Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution) – “Written In”
Those who are “written in” (21:27) enter. Seems to be the same lot of people who are “written on” in 22:4. The Lamb is the scribe, his blood the ink (I think). (First article, God spoke. Second article, God wrote?) Writing in those days signified a permanent word. (So: Write on, write on in majesty! Hear all the tribes hosanna cry!)

Step 5: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Solution) – “No Night”
Lamblight disposes of the need to bring your own “torch” (the British word for flashlight) to heaven. Here citizens recognize the light of the world, and here they no longer see anything dimly, through a glass, partially. In luce tua videmus lucem. Pack your shades.

Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution) – “Fruit-of-the-Month Club”
The crystal river feeds a tree of life that bears 12 kinds of fruit–conveniently, one for each month of the year (22:2). Its nation-healing leaves look to me suspiciously like manna or communion wafers. This is one healthy environment! Peoples and kings will enter here by the always-open gate, and dwell secure forever. No more yo-yo empires, either–with the Lord God they will reign forever and ever (22:5). But do not take this prognosis as “pie in the sky in the sweet by-and-by.” This vision is introduced as a picture of the bride of Christ, who already is. Upon earth, even now, we bear fruit. We bathe in that sparkling canal. We eat the leaves. And, in Christ, the nations are even now experiencing healing, not only from Foot-and-Mouth Disease but from Heart-and-Mind Disease and a host of other abominations. Before we are there in the heavenly city “for good,” we are here “for good.”


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