I was not really surprised. I usually try to find a work of art to place on the cover of the Order of Service, one that is related to the theme of the morning’s sermon. You will notice below that the photo that finally filled the place is a rather generic one of the church steeple with the St. Andrew’s cross atop.  My search this week retrieved little that was relevant.  When I typed in the word ‘eternity’, Google insisted on providing me with images of a perfume and the like!

We are continuing our series of summer prayers, and this Sunday will focus on one by the great English poet and preacher John Donne (1572-1631). We will read the biblical passage on which he was preaching when he shared these words (the story of Jacob seeing a ladder of communication between earth and heaven, between humanity and the Holy One: Genesis 28:10-19), and then his prayer itself:

Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house where shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity; in the habitations of thy glory and dominion, world without end. Amen. 

Donne uses four phrases that evoke four dimensions of human life as we know it – sight, sound, security and time – and after naming the extremes that we know only too well, Donne describes the promise of heaven as being ‘equal’. The declaration is of balance, of completion, in the presence of God. It is a perspective and promise that is not an escape but an encouragement for life now. Eternity not only provides strength for the journey but shapes the contours of the journey. We believe it is Jesus who leads us to ‘dwell in that house’, and also that his way is one of care for neighbour, of justice for the poor and peace for all. I believe it was Oliver Wendall Holmes who said that ‘Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good’, but perhaps he had it backwards – might it be that more consideration of eternity might shape a better life and world now?

Reflect upon the wisdom of other Christians printed at the end of the Sunday morning bulletin below. And if you are in the area, join us in the worship of God!

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