Our reading from the book of Acts contains the story of Paul receiving his Macedonian vision. This vision prompts Paul to take the gospel across the Aegean sea to the Roman province of Macedonia. As a result some of the most important early churches are established in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth to the south. All of this continues to happen as a result of the resurrected Christ. Our text records the birth of the first of these churches in Philippi, and in particular the story of Lydia’s hospitality to Paul and company when in Philippi.
Psalm 67 continues our “psalms of praise” following the resurrection of Jesus. Psalm 67 is memorable to us in that it contains the lovely hortatory benediction, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.” This is similar to the famous benediction that is found in Numbers 6:24-26.
Revelation 21:10, 21:22-22:5
In the next installment of our semi-continuous reading of the book of Revelation we see that John is taken to a high mountain where he can overlook the new city of Jerusalem. From this high vantage point John describes a number of things he sees. Chief among his descriptions of the new Jerusalem is that the temple has been replaced by the presence of God and the Lamb. Also chief among his descriptions is the presence of a river flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb. The river contains the water of life. On either side of the river is the tree of life, with 12 kinds of fruit, and with leaves to ‘heal the nations.’ Here we are taken back to the primordial garden of Eden. God dwells with us, and the world has been set to rights.
Our gospel reading is pushing us to Pentecost. On the final night before he is crucified Jesus tells his disciples that in his stead he will send an advocate (i.e. the Spirit). Jesus follows this promise with these words, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I
do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” Jesus’ words remind us of the message of John’s Revelation–Do not be afraid! God is in control. You are never alone!
Celebration of Worship
As you prepare your hearts, minds for Sunday consider the vision John receives from a high hill overlooking the new city of Jerusalem. Read Revelation 21:22-22:5. What is your favorite description of the new Jerusalem? Is it the presence of God and the lamb? Is it the fact that the sun and moon are no longer needed because the glory of God and the lamb provide the necessary light? Is it that the gates of the city are never closed? Is it the absence of night? This is a rich text of hope. It reminds us of God’s abundant provision and control. God provided the advocate in Jesus’ stead, and gave us peace. This same advocate prompted Paul to cross a sea to reach a new people with the gospel. Truly God has been gracious to us, and blessed us. Truly God has shined his face upon us.