by Emma Strelan
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And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God … the nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it (Revelation 21:10,24).
Read Revelation 21:9–27
What is worship? That’s one of the big questions of Revelation.
Revelation, really, is a depiction of one big liturgy of worship as it will be upon the return of Christ and the New Jerusalem.
But what is worship?
According to the Bible, it is the crossing of boundaries. The bringing together of things that otherwise are not usually near each other. The blurring of the boundaries between ages (both in terms of the age of the people in the congregation and over history as we sing songs and speak words written generations ago), cultures, and heaven and earth itself: God’s realm and ours.
John G Strelan (yes, that’s my grandfather) wrote: ‘Every time the people of God worship God, there the new Jerusalem is coming down out of heaven … Worship breaks the boundaries of space and time. It takes us into God’s sphere of existence’.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly feel the barriers of space-time being broken on the average Sunday morning. But maybe that’s because God always brings himself to us and puts himself in the world in a way we can relate to. He puts himself into simple things, such as bread and wine.
The church today is supposed to foreshadow the final great gathering of God’s people. But in what way, exactly?
We read that nations will walk by the holy city’s light, and kings from across the earth will bring their splendour. In other words, in the church, people of all nations are welcomed along with their culture. The church is (or should be) a model of God’s future, where all that is good and true in our cultures will be used for the service of God and his creation.
Where do you see your church crossing boundaries?
Lord, when we worship you, our earthly world meets with your divine one. Help us to see where we as a church can continue crossing boundaries, reaching those who don’t deserve your grace – yet you choose to give it anyway. Amen.
Emma works as a freelance videographer in Adelaide, and she recently joined Lutheran Media as its Production Assistant. Emma also studies theology and is heavily involved in youth camping ministry around South Australia. In her free time, she eats a lot of cheese, attempts to grow vegetables (the tomatoes have been the best success so far), and has committed the majority of her ‘casual reading’ time this year to getting through War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.