Tonight at church we opened with a blessing of the bikes. This reminded me of a scene from the Britcom The Vicar of Dibley where, much to the consternation of councilman David Horton, the Reverend Geraldine Granger blessed the animals of the townspeople--horses, rabbits, dogs, sheep, birds, and all manner of pets and livestock.
Sidenote: I'm only aware of two decent shows that focus on the life of a pastor: The Vicar of Dibley and Rev. Both come from Great Britain. Both have plenty of inappropriateness. Both are quite hilarious at times. Neither one shows an upright, pious, overly-moral pastor (whether that's good or bad), and both show some decent insight into the life of a minister.
We have a lot of bicyclists (as well as children on two or three wheels) in our church. A lot of commuters, and a lot who just enjoy cycling. A blessing over bikers, their equipment, and everyone on the road was apt. I've also heard of a church in Iowa that recently blessed its farm equipment. We all have areas of life where we need a little extra protection and blessing. Every little prayer and sprinkling of holy water helps.
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Tonight we heard teaching from Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5. We had options to attend a group discussion, doxa soma (body praise), or singing. I needed the singing tonight, so that's where I went. Our worship leader had written a song based on the text, which we learned. Then he asked us to fill in our own thoughts for the verses. We had learned that Revelation isn't just about the coming Kingdom with the New Heaven and Earth; it's about our life in Christ now, as well. So we were encouraged to think about what the images mean for us today.
John says that the New Jerusalem does not have a temple in it because we will be in the presence of Christ. We don't need a building to worship Him in as we will be with Him. And though we can't see His face, He is still with us. He has given us His Spirit. So wherever we are, we can be in worship. We aren't to compartmentalize out time at church from the rest of our week. It is all about worship of the Risen King.
John tells us that there will be no darkness, as Christ's light will illuminate the city. For me in our present context it got me thinking that Christ's light illumines all. There is nothing I can hide from Him--no matter how much I try sometimes. He knows me to my deepest core. Which also means He knows who I truly am--not the person I think I am or try to be for the sake of others. Right now I'm at a place of in-betweenness--figuring out career and ministry, getting my life in order, dealing with my brokenness. I don't fully know myself yet. But Jesus does. And His light will show me more each day.
The city's gates will never be shut as there will be no night there. There will be nothing to fear, nothing to guard the city from. I live in a part of town where we lock down everything: our cars, our garage, our house doors each night. We make sure nothing is left in the yard that we'd worry about someone taking. But this is all fueled by fear and greed. I want my stuff; I don't want others to take it. I don't want to be violated. I want my family to be safe. But I have nothing to truly fear. No one can take anything from me that is of eternal importance. So for me today, this passage means two things: 1) I need to be generous with what God has given me, and 2) I need to protect those who are in need.
John also tells us that there is a river with the water of life that flows from the throne of God into the center of the city. On its banks stand two trees of life that bear a different fruit each month and leaves of healing for the nations. The curse will be gone. We are acutely aware today that the nations are in need of healing, that our cities are in need of healing, that our homes are in need of healing. Christ has given me life; I need to protect life and spread healing to broken places.
Sometimes it's easy to think about the Kingdom of God in only future terms: of the New Heaven and Earth on the other side of eternity. Sometimes we relegate our faith life to being about getting into Heaven and how we'll have perfect bodies then and there won't be any sadness or hurt. But faith is just as much about the now as it is about the then. Maybe more so.
God is the One who is and was and is to come. And we are in Him. So all that the future holds, and all that the past has begotten, are accessible to us in the present. Thy will be done--on Earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.