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The great romance

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.        Revelation 21: 1-2


Are you a romantic? Perhaps a better, less personal, question would be “Is romance dead?” The question arises often because, in Jersey as elsewhere, the words “have sex” seem to have displaced “make love”. The word “bride” is used for someone who is already a “partner”. A bride and groom are regularly accompanied by their young child at the marriage. And the “marriage” of two men (or of two women) is being ruled to be “equal” to bride+groom marriage.


The words in bold above are from the book of Revelation in the Christian Bible. (Not “Revelations” – the book is all about one complete revelation given to a man named John one Sunday morning around AD 95 when he was living on the Greek island of Patmos. It was a revelation to him which revealed the AD 95 Jesus Christ.)  John saw many interesting aspects of Jesus Christ in a series of pictures rather like scenes from “Star Wars”.


Those scenes were accompanied by oral explanations and all was duly recorded by John. Seven copies were sent to each of the seven geographically separate churches on the Greek mainland at that time.


The recorded words of John to those churches have been preserved for all people to read – and to think through.


The beauty of a “Star Wars” format is that, whereas other genres will become time-dated (because they will necessarily refer to a particular moment in history and to a particular culture), this format doesn’t date.


An oft-repeated maxim is “history repeats itself”. The “Star Wars” genre is ideally suited to that fact because “Star Wars” pictures can identify an oft-repeated theme that occurs in the repeated history of this world and can reveal the true reality behind such repeats.


How interesting, then, that in the closing pages of John’s letter of “revelation” to the AD 95 churches the above “Star Wars” picture of “a bride adorned for her husband” is on the record.


This is John’s ultimate, final vision from God of the final end of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. He gets married. He has a prepared, adorned bride. A bride ready and glorious “for her husband.” They marry.


And there’s more. This “bride” is also described as “holy”. Righteous. Pure.


She is pictured as a “holy city”. The cities of our world today are unholy.


She is pictured as “new Jerusalem”. The present Jerusalem is, as revealed in the recently published book “Jerusalem – a Biography” by Simon Sebag Montefiore, the city on earth that has seen the most bloodshed in the past 3,000 years.  


She is pictured as “coming down out of heaven from God.” Yes, this bride’s home, her Father’s house, is heaven above – the home of righteousness in which she is fully “at home” through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross in her place.


Where are they going to live and love together – the new bride and her husband? Look at the opening sentence in bold above. John saw “a new heaven and a new earth  


A romantic picture? Yes. An untrue picture? No.A picture of which it could be said “history repeats itself”? Yes.


In every generation, in every culture, the bride of Jesus Christ is his people (a.k.a. his church), those who follow him. Those people are beginning to have all of the above attributes, even now, because of his AD 33 cross and resurrection from the dead. His death has made his people holy and heavenly in God’s sight. His resurrection life within each one is making her holy, now – but not yet.


Is romance dead? Not a bit of it.

‘There is enough light for those whose only desire is to see, and enough darkness for those of the opposite disposition.’ (Blaise Pascal, French mathematician, 1623-1662)
‘The church’s one foundation/ Is Jesus Christ her Lord;/ From heaven he came and sought her/ To be his holy bride;/ With his own blood he bought her,/ And for her life he died.’ (Samuel John Stone, minister, 1839-1900)
Richard Syvret

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