Yesterday we looked at 1 Corithians 15 and 2 Peter 3 and considered what the Bible teaches about our final destiny. We will be raised to new spiritual bodies and will live in a new heaven and a new earth. Although I was able to describe what the Bible teaches, I had a keen sense at the end of the message that we need something more than a good description, we need a sense of awe and excitement. This is one of the benefits of the book of Revelation. While we may not feel that we fully understand the details of the symbols in this book, there is an overall sense of power that comes from reading it's descriptions of the future. The book of Revelation is more about the feeling of awe than it is about clarity of explanation. When I read it, I am not exactly sure what I am seeing, but I know it is glorious.
Revelation 7:9–10 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Revelation 21:18–21 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
While our stories are never wthout hardship and loss, much is made up for by a happy ending. Cynics may dismiss the notion of the fairy tale ending but part of us need to believe in it. Tolkien in his essay "On Fairy Stories" suggsts that the happy ending is essential to the genre. He writes "The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous “turn” (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially “escapist,” nor “fugitive.” In its fairy-tale—or otherworld—setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief."
The deeper parts of our souls connect with the need for this final grace that resolves our current struggles. The Christian story is the ultimate story and our fairy stories have their power partly because they connect with what is ultimately true. The Christian story tells us that there is an essential truth to the happy ending. Without dismissing suffering, we are given hope. Christ who entered into our death also was raised to life. The gospel shows us life with a happy ending.
Of the Christian story, Tolkien says, "There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits."
Duane Guthrie challenged us on Sunday to think about how we integrate faith and work. He called us to give up on the sacred / secular divide and see that our faith must be lived out each day of the week. I was struck by the truth that most of our personal networks are formed more at work than in our neighbourhood. We know our coworkers better than the people next door. For those of us in workplaces, this can be a freeing concept. Rather than beating ourselves up for not knowing our neighbours, let us live our faith at work. For those who are not working or volunteering in our community, it presents us with a greater challenge to meet people outside of church. A second thought that crossed my mind is how we might practice integrated mission as a church. It got me thinking about our property and how we might be able to develop in a way that brings together, church and business. Could we develop our property and add student residences, a cafe, a Chinese restaurant or an art studio. Could we create a building that encourages the church to connect with our community. We already do this at student dinner and with our preschool. I plan on talking more with Duane about how to do integrated mission in Victoria.