After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
The photo is from our lunch break in the Overflow Room at HPCA’s back-to-school workday this past weekend.
The text from the Revelation of Jesus to John tells of a vision of the very throne room of heaven. We take this scene to be an already and not-yet reality. It is an apocalypse, a vision, of things to come. It’s where were bound, this every nation, tribe, people, and language reality to which God is moving all history. We’re not yet there. It is also a reality that breaks out wherever life is lived under the Lordship of Christ. It’s an already, and we caught a glimpse of it in North Philadelphia last weekend.
The HPCA back-to-school workday a taste of heaven? Yes.
As we gathered last Saturday at the old building in Hunting Park, we were urban and suburban, young and old, black and white, Asian and Latino, men and women, girls and boys. We were there to paint and repair, scrub and re-stack, all to the glory of God – and to the Lamb. Nothing could have been better.
It all seems so naïve. In our partisan, bitter, divided world where ethnic, racial, gender, national, and every other identity is seen as more important than our human identify. The idea of laying aside lesser identities for a greater identity, seems hopelessly simple if not simplistic. But there we were on a hot and humid Saturday for just a few hours. The Overflow Room at HPCA, the throne room of heaven?
Some say Martin Luther King’s dream told on a hot August afternoon 56 years ago is no match for the nightmare of 21st Century American animosities. We have not solved the problem of racial injustice in our country. Some of us live with privileges denied others. Hate lives in the pews of our churches. God, mend our every flaw.
Facing reality, though, others of us insist on a still more excellent way. Some of us know that King’s dream was built on the vision John saw.
Our denomination, the EPC, has commissioned a Revelation 7:9 Task Force and charged it with encouraging our congregations to more and more become communities that reflect the already and not yet reality of God’s kingdom. We hope for more than occasional sightings of this wonderful Kingdom reality. We hope LPC becomes more and more a Revelation 7:9 church.
The apocalypse, the unveiling, the glimpse of things to come given to John by Jesus tells us that we are bound not to a hell of division and suspicion, but to the throne room of heaven where people of every nation, tribe, people, and language join together in praise to God and to the Lamb. And in the meantime we are called to create little throne rooms for the King in places like urban North Philadelphia and suburban Langhorne.
Come, Lord Jesus!
See you Sunday