I live in Cleveland, Ohio, which has a rich and diverse religious heritage. The immigrants who built the city also built houses of worship to honor God. Whenever I drive downtown, I marvel at all the steeples, domes, and towers I pass. They are especially beautiful at night when they are lit.
In Revelation 21, the author gives us a vision of a different kind of city—the new Jerusalem—descending from heaven to earth. In that city there are no steeples, domes, or church towers. In fact, there is no need for a temple. There is no need because the whole city serves to honor God. And the steeples do not need to be lit because the glory of God is the city’s light, and there is no night. Like Psalm 67 that we read at the beginning of the week, in the new Jerusalem the light of God’s saving power transforms all nations.
Another mark of the vision of the new Jerusalem is the fact that the city’s gates always remain open. Modern cities do not have gates that close, but more and more individual buildings and housing developments are secured, which tends to separate us from people who are different from us.
Where city gates do not exist, perhaps a more fitting parallel in our day is the national border. Borders in our country and elsewhere are policed and defended like never before. The story of Paul entering Macedonia in Acts 16 reminds us that transformation can occur by entering a new land. But transformation can also occur when people from other nations come to us. Relating to people who are different from us can give us an experience of “the glory and the honor of the nations”—a foretaste of the new Jerusalem.
God of all nations, help us walk in your light. May we keep our gates open to those who are different from us. Transform us by the glory of the nations. Amen.