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.’ 10 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. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal…. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.
What an astonishing sight! Our protestant tradition could sometimes be accused of being a little drab, we’re not ones to decorate our churches and we place little value on art and beauty. Perhaps we’re a little like the disciples who moaned at the expense and waste when the woman poured expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet. But art and beauty are a God given gifts, part of the wonder of the world we live in and that he has formed and a reflection of his character. They stir the soul and point beyond themselves to him. Maybe this description of the new Jerusalem also says a little about how God sees us, looking beyond the grim and ugliness of our lives to see us a precious and beautiful in his sight.
Father, help us to see and celebrate your beauty and the beauty of your world today. Especially help us to see it in the lives of those we meet today as you do in us.