Cross and Flame - Christ (cross) and the Holy Spirit (flame).

Wheatland United Methodist Church

8000 S. Hampton Road
Dallas, Texas  75232
972.224.3575

Rev. Peter McNabb
Wheatland UMC
Dallas, Texas
May 5, 2013

The River of Life

Revelation 21: 10 – 22 – 22:5

INTRODUCTION:
It was such a blessing this last week to preside at the home-going service of longtime Wheatland member Verda Wright.  She led an incredible life and went to be with the Lord on April 25th at the age of 94.   I say incredible because she was one who was truly focused on living for the Joy of the Lord, on giving of herself with joyful abandon, and of turning loose the creative power of the Holy Spirit in her life and in the lives of others.  

She was an artist.  And now that she is healed from the struggles of this Earthly life, free of the back pain and walking today with Jesus on the streets of gold, beside the crystal sea, I was just wondering on this Sunday morning, “What colors is Verda seeing today!”

I know not all of you were able to make it over to Jayne’s Funeral Home for the service, and thank you to those who did.  But I wanted to share with you some information that Verda wrote down about her life on January 29, 2007 when she was 89 and still very active in the community and church.   You might say she wrote her own obituary, only I believe it’s a story that’s more about living than dying.

“Verda Wright.  Born in Irving, Texas, now Las Colinas.  Graduated Irving High School.  Moved to Dallas.  Married Roland.  One son, Orval.  Two grandsons, Terry and Tony.  One great grand-daughter, Kymberlee.

I worked in Advertising Dept. of E. M. Kahn & Co. for 10 years.  I quit. Met Pilla Leggett teaching painting in Oak Cliff.  I was with her for many years, a good traditional artist from Kentucky.  I was employed by Chanse Vought for 5 years.  Left .  Built me an art studio.  Had all the children in the neighborhood coming to paint. Many of these became art teachers in Dallas schools.  I held a class for ladies at my Methodist Church.  We had art shows and gave prizes. 

I finished my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from University of Texas Arlington in 1973.  Did some mini masters in drawing and water color painting at Bishop Dunne High School.   From my volunteer service, I was called to be sole coordinator of Art at Cistercian Preparatory School for Boys in Irving.  It was the best time.  After 2 years, I left to go with my husband on a long trip to New Zealand, Australia, Bangkok, Japan and South Islands.  I continued workshops with many good teachers. 

Joined DeSoto Art League when it was organized at the old Nance Farm in 1981.  Leroy Smith helped organize it. I can’t say I’ve become lucky and sold a lot of paintings, but I do have a boxful of ribbons and many good art friends. 

Member of the Art Clubs Association of Traditional Artists and the Frank Reagh Art Club.   Long years in Methodist Churches: Irving, Cockrell Hill, Southwood UMC, Church of the Disciple.  Currently at Wheatland’s 160-year-old Methodist Church.  Beautiful.

“What colors is Verda seeing today!”

OUR CHOICE: HOW TO INVEST FEW DAYS WE HAVE

What are we doing with our lives?  When we realize it, even should we live to 94 as Verda did, it’s really only a matter of several thousand days that we are on this Earth.   Each day---including today, May 5th, 2013---is a gift from the Lord.    We are so privileged to have with us today our brothers and sisters who are members of the Wheatland Cemetery Association.  They will be staying with us for lunch and I hope you get acquainted and re-acquainted with them. 

As they will tell you, on the markers over there at the cemetery, there is a date of birth and a date of death.  And there’s a dash in between.  And that’s where we are today: living in the dash.   It’s preciously short, a wonderful gift, yet it is not all.  There is so much more! The best is yet to come! 

Yet while we are here, we are called to plant our roots in faith and live life abundantly in Jesus Christ.  I love the First Psalm, Psalm 1 that begins:

Blessed is he
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water,
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

How can we be more like trees planted by water?   How can we bear fruit in its season?   When we refuse to neither walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the way of sinners nor sit in the seat of scoffers.  When the law of the Lord becomes our delight and something on which we mediate day and night.  Then, we shall become like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in it season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that it does, it prospers. 

First two chapters of Genesis set the stage for a world meant to be created wonderfully right that goes terribly wrong.  Last two chapters of Revelation set the stage for a world where everything is terribly wrong yet about to become wonderfully right.

OUR DILEMMA: FOLLOW THE WORLD OR FOLLOW GOD

You’ve heard me preaching a lot the last few weeks about Revelation.  I’ve tended to stay away from Revelation in my first two years as a pastor because it is so mysterious, even scary at times and I don’t claim to understand it all.  But a friend of mine from Irving, the Rev. Bill LaBarr, senior pastor of Plymouth Park United Methodist Church, says the book of Revelation is a lot like opera.  Written in a different language.  You don’t necessarily understand every word, but you get the general tone.  And when you pay attention to it, you hear some beautiful passages, like the one we read last week chapter 21:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming out of heaven from god, prepared as a bridge beautifully dressed for her husband.”

Can you see that in your mind’s eye? 

And there are pictures of horror, ones of punishment for the wicked and those who chase after all the evils of the world.  This is a warning for all of us!    In Chapter 17, titled “The Woman on the Beast,” we hear this: ”One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters.  With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.  Then the angel carried me in the Spirit into a desert.  There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls.  She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead: Mystery.  Babylon the Great.  The mother of prostitutes and of the abomination of the earth.”

Contrast that picture of horror, that woman on the beast, with the picture of purity and perfection that was see in the end, when the Christ rules and the Bride of Christ—His church—you and me—come to live with Him forever.  Hear these words of assurance from Chapter 21, verse 9:

“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.  It shone with the glory of God and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.”

And we read further and come to understand that we, the servants of God, will see the face of Jesus, and His name will be on our foreheads!  Our purpose will be to point people to Jesus Christ.  And my question to you this morning is: Why wait until then?  Why not start pointing people to Jesus Christ this very day, here and now?

CHOOSING LIFE
When we choose to open our eyes—our spiritual eyes—to the life God has for us here and now we experience it, we see it:

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. 

Imagine that---the river of life---life-giving water, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb down the middle of Main Street.  What does that say to me?  It calls me to jump right in!   

Hear these words from the end of Chapter 21:

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life

Is your name in the Book of Life?   Do you want to make sure?  Re-commit your life to Jesus Christ and start truly living.

You see, God is calling us to be trees planted by the River of Life, to be taken back to the Garden of Eden.  God is the one making all things right.  And it’s not just way-y-y-y-y-y in the future.  It starts today.

CONCLUSION:


What is holding you back?    Jump in!   The river of life is life-giving.  It’s the place God is calling you and I to go.    Won’t you come with me? 

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