Acts 16: 9-15; Revelation 21: 10, 22- 22: 5; John 5: 1-9
I’ve commented before about heilsgeschichte. This wonderful German word in the field of Biblical studies, to refer to the great story, the holy story, the overarching narrative of the scriptures. To say that we have in scripture not simply an anthology, a collection of separate texts, written by different authors in different languages in distinctive historical contexts, but deep down, or over all, one story, one message, God speaking, in and through. One word of invitation. A gift of his self-expression. In the first chapter, fiat lux, the word of God brings forth all that is. And here in the 21st chapter of the Revelation, as Paul Harvey used to say, the end of the story, climax. The New Jerusalem of God comes down from heaven, a bride adorned for her bridegroom. And God is all in all.
I have shared before the thought that the Easter story could be absolutely true and still not mean anything. It could just be a chapter in Ripley’s Believe it or not. Come and hear the story of the man who died but didn’t stay dead. Scientists can’t explain it. The one living creature in all recorded history to beat the odds. Lucky for him.
But in the midst of this Easter season and on this Sunday before Ascension, what we have before us is the assertion and affirmation, not simply that the Easter story is true, but that it means everything. Because it is a story not simply about what we learn happened on Easter Sunday morning to Jesus, but because it is a story that is also about us. You and me, here and now. And not just about us, but about everybody, and everything.
The story began back in Genesis in the Garden. Those two trees. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Apple. All the calamity and brokenness. Someone said, if you think things are fine, you aren’t paying attention. Not just a little messiness around the edges, though we will try to keep things prettied-up on the surface, and to turn our eyes away when we can. But corruption and the grip of sin and death all the way down. A page and a half into this great big old Bible book, and the whole story runs off the rails. Looks pretty grim.
And we know deep down what’s in the heart of that Macedonian in Paul’s dream-vision, as he ponders and prays over his call to the stewardship of the gospel and the message of Easter. “Come over and help us. Come over and help us.”
And simply to say, that the Easter story is true, and means everything. The river flowing from the throne and heart of God and of the Lamb, from the Cross of Jesus and out into all creation, the vast expanse of interstellar space, this earth our island home, and into our hearts and minds and lives. “The river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing form the throne of God and of the lamb through the middle of the street of the city. The New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. On either side of the river is the tree of life, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it. And there will be no more night, no need of light or lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
What’s left of Easter is the question Jesus asks the that disabled man at the Bethesda Pool, a question that is meant for him and for all of us. The question of Easter. What about you? Do you want to be healed?
To say yes this morning, yes to Easter, yes to Jesus.
Ye who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbors, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways, draw near with faith. To say yes.