The Emerging New Church

In chapter 21 of the Apocalypse John sees the new heaven and the new earth, for the old has passed away. Along with this comes the new Jerusalem, the bride of Christ. John is presenting the heavenly city as the church, the redeemed community. He recalls the theme of the incarnation, that the divine now dwells with the human, that the time of suffering has passed, and that the divine will bring an end to tears, mourning, crying, pain and death, for all this has passed away with the victory of Christ against the empire and against the heretics within the church. Again, the divine voice sounds the former theme of Christ,”It is finished!” The liturgical drama is a recapitulation of the Passion of the Christ. The victory is a proclamation of a day of grace for believers, and judgment for sinners. The re-enactment is further enhanced by the second part of the vision, where the same angel who in 17:1 transported John to see the great harlot, now transports him to have a more comprehensive vision of the new city, the community of the redeemed. In 21:1 John presents one view of the new community. From verse 9 onwards he gives a different description, in which the city is radiant and beautiful, perfectly formed and orderly, with an architecture that is harmonious, a reminder of the creation in which the divine created a perfectly harmonious world. The community of the redeemed, the church, is the new creation, the new heaven and new earth, over which the divine itself reigns once more. The liturgical drama presents the scene of the redeemed community as one in which the Incarnation has become complete, there is no longer a temple, for the divine itself is the holy place, the holy city. The divine itself is the light of the redeemed community. This description goes on until 22:5. The conclusion of the vision presents Jesus again as the faithful witness whose word is true, 1:5. The rest of chapter 22 is an exhortation to the victorious church to continue its prophetic ministry in full faith that Jesus has returned, and will continue to return whenever faith is in peril, and the church is in danger. The book of Revelation re-tells the story of the Gospels, the birth of Christ, his life, death and resurrection, and his victory. (This is the end of my reflections on the Revelation of John. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.)

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