The Everywhere Temple

Acts 16:9-15 | Rev. 21:10, 22-22:5

Jeremy Richards

Our readings today may seem, at first glance, to be quite different, and they are, but there are some commonalities as well. There is one in particular that I’d like to focus on, and it isn’t something that they both have, but something they are both missing. I’d like to focus not on something that’s present, but something that’s absent: a temple, a church.

I’ve Started to Make Heaven My Home

Revelation 7:9-17

Jeremy Richards

In his book, The Spirituals and the Blues, the theologian James Cone explores the meaning of heaven in black slave spirituals. He begins one chapter with these questions:

How was it possible for black slaves to take seriously their pain and suffering in an unfriendly world and still believe that God was liberating them from earthly bondage? How could they really believe that God was just when they knew only injustice, oppression, and death? What exactly was revealed in their encounter with God that made them know that their humanity was protected from the insanity of white masters and governmental officials? The answer to these questions lies in the concept of heaven, which is the dominant idea in black religious experience as expressed in the black spirituals.[1]

The Art of Apocalypse

Revelation 4-5 (esp. 5:11-14)

Jeremy Richards        

I’m no art connoisseur, but I like art. When Brie and I visit other cities, we often like to go to the art museums, even though we’ve never been to the Portland Art Museum, if you can believe that. But in New York we went to the Met and MOMA. In Italy we went to the Borghese Gallery. And then, every church in Italy was basically an art museum as well. While I’m not so into gold and gaudy decorations, I think it would be great if churches started looking like art museums again (maybe we could start with our church?). Our faith is too cerebral these days. In Amsterdam we went to the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum. We’re total novices when it comes to art appreciation, and we have no real experience or talent when it comes to the visual arts, but every time Brie and I visit an art museum, we end up wishing we went more.

Revelation: A Line in the Sand

Revelation 1:4-8

Jeremy Richards        

After our daughter Esther’s birth at Legacy Emmanuel, Brie and Esther were wheeled to a beautiful room in Randall Children’s hospital. The two hospitals are connected, so we never went outside. When we got to our room high up in the hospital, we had a beautiful view looking out over green treetops against a blue sky. It was like we were in another world. We had nurses caring for us, Brie had food delivered, and, of course, we had this new human, this new child. Our entire family had changed. Our whole world had changed. No longer were we two, we were three.

Presence and Dependence

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 | Psalm 27

Jeremy Richards

 There’s a theme running through our two readings today, and running through most of Scripture that stands out to me. And it stands out to me because it’s so present in our readings, and so present in the whole of Scripture, and yet so often absent in my own life. And that theme is a real belief that God is present and active in our lives, and more than that, that we can depend on God. In the story from Genesis, Abram is completely dependent upon God to fulfill God’s promise and give him an heir, and God shows up and has a conversation with Abram about it. Psalm 27 is 14 verses of trust in God, who the psalmist is sure will never forsake him.