SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
Acts 16: 9 – 15
When we began this series of readings from Acts, I mentioned the change in speakers toward the end of the book, the “we passages.” Here is one of them, a companion of Paul telling about their activities. The identity of this speaker remains a mystery, and no one has a certain explanation why the passages should appear among Paul’s letters. I find it exciting to get this unexpected picture of Paul, the practical mystic. He not only has a vision, but it acts upon it at once, even though it cost a great deal of effort. And behold: success. Our story is about the conversion of one woman, Lydia, and her family, but obviously Paul and his companions made many others. Next Sunday we will hear about the incident that led to the arrest of Paul and his companions.
Revelation 21: 10; 21:22 – 22:5
We hear today the description of the heavenly city that displaces the earthly cities of the Iron Age. This divine city lacks a temple, for as is said in Hebrews 9:23-29, the sacrifice of Jesus removes any further need of sacrifice. The light once provided by sun and moon is overwhelmed by the light which is the glory of God. There will be no more closing of the city gates at night, for there will be no night. Into this open city will march earthly rules, submitting their nations to the rule of God. They will find a new (or perhaps replanted) Garden of Eden with its river of life and trees of life, now grown into groves. All those who are innocent of sin will be gathered here. The sinful, according to Revelation, are already in the lake of fire (21:8). Here the righteous will know the highest possible good: they will see God’s face.
© Arthur H. Cash