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Sixth Sunday of Easter


Saint Margaret’s Anglican Church Budapest, Hungary Acts 16:9-15; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5; John 5:1-9 Its temple is the Lord God, the Almighty and the Lamb. In my reading and research this past week, by chance I ran across God’s address. No, I do not mean his email address. I am still looking for that; and if I find it, you will be the first to know. I mean rather that I came across God’s actual street address. You can look it up for yourself on Google Maps or Google Street-View, if you like. For that matter, I suppose you can even go there, if you are so inclined. According to Google Maps, it should take you about thirty-five hours by car from here in Szentkirályi utca. So, if you are interested in knowing God’s street address, here it is: Haomer Street Number 2, Jerusalem 97500. Let me repeat that. Haomer Street Number 2, Jerusalem 97500. You might want to jot it down for future reference. You never know: It could come in handy someday if you are feeling lost. After all, this is where God lives, or perhaps I should say this is where God used to live. He has apparently not been seen at home for some time now; some say since the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 69 or 70 AD. Nowadays, all that is left of God’s residence here on earth is the so-called Wailing Wall and the adjacent Al-Aqsa Mosque. And the address I just gave you will get you as close to both as the authorities these days will allow. You cannot be too careful with God’s dwelling-place, after all. For the ancient Israelites, of course, the Temple was in fact God’s concrete and tangible dwelling- place here on earth, as fixed and firm as, well, the earth itself. Perhaps after all those years wandering the desert of the Exodus and after so many years of Exile in Babylon, the ancient Jews had had enough. They wanted permanency and certainty. They might also have wanted a place where God could dwell with them in comfort and splendour, so that he would not be tempted to wander off and abandon them for some other nation or people. Of course, they might also have simply wanted a place where they could keep an eye on God; and perhaps stay one step ahead of him; a temptation which is alas with us still today in the thinking of too many people. Now, the scholars are not quite sure when the New Testament Book of Revelation, from which our second Reading today is taken, was written; although most conclude it was likely toward the end of the first century, so probably sometime in the 80s or 90s. This would seem to make sense as we reflect upon our passage this morning. “I saw no temple in the City,” of Jerusalem writes the author of the Book of Revelation in what many consider to be an allusion to the Temple’s destruction; “I saw no temple in the City,” just about as jarring and alarming a statement as any ancient Israelite might ever have wished to hear. For, without the Temple God has no place to call his own, no place to hang his hat or put up his feet, no place from which to rule, no way in which to be among his people. And the people are consequently left bereft of the divine presence among them. This is seemingly exactly what happened as the Romans destroyed the Temple in retribution for a revolt among the Jews, the

kind of revolt of which the Romans took a very dim view indeed. Perhaps the thinking was that, if you destroy a people’s place of worship, you destroy the people’s will to live as well. Destroy their God, and you destroy the people. In any case, some maintain that the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple resulted more or less in the millennia-long diaspora of the Jewish people across Europe and elsewhere throughout the world. Still, for the author of the Book of Revelation, John, as he calls himself -- not by the way to be confused with the Apostle or Evangelist of the same name -- the destruction of the Temple is not the end but in a sense a new beginning. For him, the fact that there was “no temple in the City” makes room for the Temple which has come “down out of heaven,” as he writes, makes room in other words for Christ, the Lamb of God. For, Christ is not only the Lamb who replaces the sacrifices of the old temple; Christ is himself the temple of sacrifice. In Christ, God dwells among his people not in a building made by human hands but as one with human hands, one with a heart and mind and soul. But yet as infinitely more. In Christ, the temple is no longer a fixed geographical location which can be precisely pinpointed upon a map, the temple becomes rather a divine person who embraces all humankind and all nations. That is the image painted by John in this passage; an image of light and openness; of a temple whose “gates will never be shut by day,” of a temple whose divine love shuts out all darkness and evil. It is, needless to say, a utopian vision of a world filled with peace and harmony, a vision which alas remains unfulfilled as we see reflected in the dystopian world around us. But it is a revelation, as the name of John’s book suggests, of the divine will and of the world to come, a world first ushered in by the coming of the Christ and his Resurrection, a vision in other words of hope. And that is where we find ourselves today. If the old temple was but a pinprick on a map, we may be tempted to think that the new temple in the person of Christ must be smaller still -- how big is a person after all? -- hardly a presence to move mountains, end wars, or bring about harmony among the nations. Yet it is only in the divine will expressed in Christ that all the world, all the universe, can at last be embraced in the love of God despite the evil all around us. Our poor world, small as it is, struggles along, as does each of us. But if there is no “temple in the City,” there is now a temple in each of us; a temple of the Spirit of God. As we leave this temple at Szentkirályi utca 51 in the Eighth District of Budapest, we enter once again the temple about us and within us, the temple which is indeed “the Lord God, the Almighty and the Lamb.” Amen. The Revd Dr Frank Hegedűs

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