Chapter 6 Meeting in Zion
Jesus’ meetings were like happy family reunions. Each group had a unique blend of characters and Jesus was fond of them all.
Thomas’ group was made up from those who had spent the last period of the Previous Age growing together in a particular community. The start of that period had been named the Great Suffering as so many suffered and died in the calamities that occurred. Most of which were the direct result of the imbalances caused in the natural environment by human activity. God had asked Jesus to return and, with the help of the resurrected saints, set about healing the earth.
The saints Thomas, Anne, Harmony and Yan had been raised when Jesus returned and willingly offered to help him restore harmony on the old earth. They had been sent together to a community where they demonstrated Agape Love to all they met. Four members of that community, Bull, Sylvia, Yvonne and Carlos, had grown to become Christ-like, mainly through experiencing the love shown by the resurrected saints. These four had become mature enough to be resurrected directly into Zion when the old earth came to its end. The eight of them were overjoyed to find they had been grouped together to help some of those placed in communities on the New Earth.
Jesus now set about explaining the next step to the group. He loved to debrief over some food he’d prepared.
“Absolutely delicious,” said Yan, putting his bowl down.
Jesus smiled across the table. Not everyone loved his concoctions, they were adventurous in the extreme, as Jesus enjoyed seeing what could blend in terms of flavours and textures. Sometimes he went a bit too far in experimenting and so always had some safe bets in reserve, just in case he could see his friends were struggling with his creations.
“You always have been brave with my food!” laughed Jesus.
Harmony grimaced and pushed the morsels left in her bowl around with a fork.
“Here you go, Harmony.”
Jesus took the lid off a hot pot, revealing a vegetable stew that was a bit more predictable. He winked and Harmony sighed with a chuckle, filling her bowl with steaming hot stew.
“Thank you for welcoming each person into their community,” said Jesus, looking around at his friends. “We’ve raised a small number so far. Only another one hundred billion to go!”
Everyone laughed out loud at the mind-boggling number of people who would eventually be raised and inhabit the New Earth. Every person who had ever been conceived would be raised, everyone, from aborted and miscarried foetuses to the oldest people to have lived in the Previous Age. Each life was to be brought onto the New Earth to either immediately serve with Jesus from Zion or to mature in a community before gaining admittance to Zion.
“The environment selected for each individual depends on how their desires had been shaped by their experiences in the Previous Age. Within the communities everyone will have the opportunity to mature and learn the ways of Agape Love. Not all processes will be the same, some will be more challenging than others.
Every fifty years the populations of each community will be rearranged. These Jubilee periods will help the overall process in many ways, I will describe this in more detail later.
You’re all ready for this. You were chosen because you have matured to truly follow me, in mind and spirit. I know you still make mistakes, but you have come to understand that all situations can be resolved with patience and forgiveness. You are willing to show Agape Love, because you accept that God unfailingly loves you.”
Jesus could say these things because he was able to see the true nature of every person.
“You will be an example of Agape Love in each community and be ready to assist members, if they ask for help. You will glorify my Father by the way you are seen by others and your presence will encourage, even the most stubborn of individuals, to understand his will. There is no limit to the time allocated to each person. We will keep showing everyone Agape Love for as long as it takes. I must warn you that the work ahead will have difficult moments. Remember, you are able to access your dwelling places here in Zion when you need a time away from your community.”
“Jesus, can I ask something?” said Yvonne. “If you wanted to, could you make everyone understand and exhibit Agape Love quickly?”
“It’s a good question, Yvonne. The honest answer is no. During my first time on earth, I could not bring even my twelve closest friends to a point of total trust and understanding. And that’s ok. The truest, deepest works of the heart are done over much time and learning. There is no quick fix for the human will. In fact, it is not about will power.”
“So what could people have done before you returned to the earth in the Previous Age?” asked Yvonne.
“Rauch did her best to encourage people to listen to her and follow her guidance. If more people had done that the suffering would have been greatly reduced,” replied Jesus. “Many strived to control their actions, but did not realise that perfection of character is not the goal. Everyone living from Agape Love is the destination we are moving toward. Agape Love can accommodate failure and mistakes, that’s the great safety net that will allow all of humanity to live in peace and safety once everyone operates within its flow.”
Yvonne nodded, and then a new question arose.
“So absolute perfection is not the ultimate goal?”
All the team where now listening intently, as Yvonne voiced some of the questions many of them had carried for some time. Jesus took a deep breath and fiddled with some bread in his fingers.
“It really depends how you define ‘perfection’,” he said. “Agape Love makes all things work. All things will eventually become good. But not everything will be perfect – as in no one ever makes any mistakes or irritates, upsets or misunderstands another person. Remember, all of you experienced suffering at the hands of others, long after you chose to follow me. What made the suffering more bearable for you was not the absence of upset, but rather the trust in knowing that it was not the ultimate truth or power in the situation. Rather, you knew that Agape Love was the highest power. If you held to this, which you all now do by the way, then things would be good in due time. That’s why you’re all here. You all came to see that Agape Love is the ultimate good and did not bend your trust and belief in this to accommodate upset, hatred or revenge.”
Bull piped up, “So there will still be upset and hurt one hundred million years from now?”
“People are far too complex to never upset each other, but when all things are reconciled to Papa God, and I hand over the whole of the New Earth to him, everyone will be rooted in unfailing love. Upset and hurt will happen, but the remedy will be quickly applied.”
Bull understood what Jesus was saying but had no idea how it might be achieved.
“Things will become clearer as the work ahead plays out, I promise. Agape Love is the reason all things exist. It is the ultimate, deepest meaning in every atom and fibre of creation, in due time it will succeed.”
Thomas pitched in, “Zion is a place where Agape Love already flows without hinderance. This is the place where we can come and receive all that we need to be encouraged in our work, and to just… be. Don’t forget, this is where the living water is, and the leaves on the trees for the healing of the nations.”
“Where are those trees?” asked Sylvia.
“The trees are by the River of Living Water,” said Jesus. “They have real leaves and produce fruit frequently. The image of these trees and their leaves has been used as a metaphor for the library of material we have built up, recording the experiences of individuals in the Previous Age. The descriptions of these experiences will often be helpful in warning people about the potential consequences of pursuing a particular course of action.
Soon a few people from every group in the history of humankind will be represented here. Those who heard Ruach’s voice and accepted her invitation to follow the way of Agape Love. They will be formed into teams like yours. They, like you, will have a place here in the city, as well as assignments out across the New Earth.”
While Thomas’ team had been settling people into the communities, it had not been possible to clarify the plan with Jesus. They were still in awe of the New Earth and were glad of the opportunity to ask him to respond to their questions.
“In the Ages to come, you are going to have plenty of questions,” laughed Jesus.
“I’m glad you’re not frustrated with us!” said Carlos timidly.
“Not at all!” said Jesus kindly, “It takes time to figure all this out. I only say what I see Papa doing and tell you what I know from our communication. One day I’ll hand over the completed work to him and all things will accept him as their Father. Creation will finally be utterly saturated in Agape Love.”
Jesus became visibly emotional.
“I cannot tell you the beauty I’ve seen. No words can possibly describe it. Every inspired work of art, be it painting, dance, music, book or film – all of it is reaching for what is to come. The crescendo at the completion of this symphony will be beyond what any eye has seen, or ear has heard.”
Jesus began to weep gently, tears running down his olive-skinned cheek bones and into his short black beard. He let them flow.
“The wonder, the beauty of it all. I was there when Papa spoke it into existence. And yet that was just the start. When I hand it over, it will be complete, and everything will be restored and reconciled. Agape Love will not have failed anyone or anything. Thank you, friends. I thank you for believing. For reaching past your own understanding and your pain. For trusting me. Thank you for joining with me in our father’s work.”
By now a silence had descended on the table. Each team member was lost in the wonder of Jesus’ words, and the acute emotion of their potency. For a few precious moments, the whole team could see and feel the crescendo as if they could take it in their hands and eat it like the food before them. Following Jesus was hard at times, but at junctures like this, it was more than worth every struggle, every hurt sustained, every minute outside a personal comfort zone.
Everyone joined in the washing up after the meal. Jesus always insisted on having his hands in the suds, while the others wiped things dry and put them away. It was a time for telling stories, cracking jokes and some enjoyed playfully whipping each other with rolled up drying up cloths.
“We get to stay in Zion tonight,” grinned Yvonne excitedly to Carlos.
“I’ve been so looking forward to some time here. The beds are so comfy, and the views are spectacular from every single room!”
“Have you ever walked by the River of Living Water in the cool of the evening?” asked Thomas of Yvonne.
“No, but that sounds wonderful,” she smiled back at Thomas.
“Light hits the golden streets just so, and everything glows in a perfect amber hue,” Thomas continued. “Maybe we can go down there now?”
Jesus turned away from the sink and nodded, “Go ahead, get down to the riverside before the light changes, we’re all done here.”
Thomas and his team bid Jesus goodbye, each in their own way, as they quickly gathered themselves and ran outside and onto the golden streets.
“I guess some things weren’t metaphors then?” mused Harmony to Yan as they walked at a pace towards the river.
Yan laughed, “No I guess not! We have golden streets, there is a river of living water, lined with trees, and there are those huge gateways. It seems John the Revelator really did glimpse this place.”
Harmony and Yan had come from a similar time in history and could relate quite easily despite coming from different sides of the planet. For a team of people from across the centuries, the eight of them had developed a remarkably good understanding of each other through their many years together.
The sky seemed to roar into a new phase of luminescence as the heavenly bodies moved in their orbits. The city around them was beginning to throb with warm, golden light as the pavements reflected the changing colours. In various windows and doorways of the dwelling places people began to appear and stand in wonder, enjoying the spectacle unfolding before their eyes.
The River of Living Water seemed to dance and sway as the friends looked out. It was a wide river, but the other side was clearly visible. Small groups of people were gathered on the banks, some dangled their legs in the water, a couple were drinking from their hands and splashing each other.
“Every summer’s evening in my hometown was pointing towards this,” sighed Harmony, lost in awe. “We used to say it was like heaven when the sun set over the delta and the kids would swim and play.”
“It was the same for us,” replied Anne. “We would keep cool by playing in the Jordan. There were places where it was possible to jump in and a few where it was deep enough to dive. We also used to say it was ‘like heaven’.”
“Seems like all the good things that we knew really were just whetting our appetite for this,” said Carlos as he gazed out over the stunning vista before him.
The golden streets began to dull slightly as the intensity of the moment wore off. The sound of laughter rang throughout the city as people began to settle in for the night. The colours in the sky continued to wax and wane, continually changing the reflections on the streets of Zion.
Thomas’ team made their way back from the riverside to their dwellings for the night. Everyone had their own room and went to their beds bursting with gratitude for all they had heard and seen.
Sleep was different in Zion. Peace hugged each sleeper close, and the pure bliss of complete safety meant all dreams were sweet.
It was time to move back out to the communities where they were assigned. There would be no more additions to these communities, as the first jubilee was about to officially begin.
Each of Thomas’ team pondered what new experiences awaited them, as they bade each other goodbye and set out.
Anne and Harmony were to return to the Woodlands on the edge of Beulah.
“Why do you think we get to be so close to Zion?” asked Anne.
Harmony thought for a few seconds. “I think it’s because those who were victims of much abuse in the Previous Age are often humble of heart and open to love. I think Jesus wants them to know how close they are to him.”
“Indeed,” mused Anne. “These are very traumatised people. Their lives have been so full of suffering. It will be good for them to be in a safe environment and to know they are loved.”
“I think it will take much care and attention to bring out their true identity; not as a victim but as a loved child of God.”
Anne’s settlement was a ten-minute walk away from Harmony’s. It was also made of eight cabins surrounding a small communal space.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” Anne bade Harmony farewell as she peeled off to head to her clearing.
Further into the Woodlands, up on a valley-side was the kindergarten where Yvonne and Yan would be helping newly reunited families. When babies and children had died in the previous age, they were reunited with raised family members and were in small communities where they could grow up.
Yan cast a careful eye over the dwellings as they entered the village.
“I like how children are reunited with relatives,” he said to Yvonne. “Stillborn children are growing up in a family, as they would’ve done had they lived.”
Yvonne was a bundle of energy and fun, always laughing and playing. She was enthusiastically waving and pulling faces at some of the children as they watched from their windows. Some ran cheering from open front doors, approaching Yvonne expectantly.
She turned and smiled at Yan as several small children pulled at her arms.
“It’s lovely. What they never knew, they’ll not miss.”
Yan was a sagely, calming influence and was a good friend to the adult family members, like Johan. Their village was situated on a hillside, with slides and swings and other play equipment built into almost every nook and cranny. The wooden houses were all different colours and there were views out across the treetops. In the distance, the huge radiant walls of Zion could be seen.
“Yan! You must come for some tea and cakes!” called Johan from his balcony. “I want to thank you for all your help yesterday.”
Yan looked up and saluted to Johan. “Ok! I will come in an hour.”
Yan loved to sit and talk with people. He tended to listen much more than speak, but when he did speak, he did so with consideration.
“You get real tea, while I have tea parties sipping air from tiny wooden cups!” laughed Yvonne.
“You wouldn’t change it if you could!” replied Yan with a chuckle.
“True!” called Yvonne as she was dragged by a mob of giggling children into a hamlet of Wendy houses.
Carlos and Sylvia entered their village, a picturesque settlement of small cottages with thatched roofing.
“Back to your end, then!” said Sylvia, jokingly pushing Carlos’ shoulder.
At one end lived the women and at the other, the men.
Carlos smiled sarcastically. “I know exactly how today will go,” he said. “I’ll see a few solitary men trudging around, hands in pockets. None of them will even look at me.”
“At least you get a quiet life!” replied Sylvia. “I can hear the women outside my door, complaining that she said ‘this’ and they said ‘that’ and she did what-not and so-and-so won’t do ‘this’… ugh… it’s exhausting!”
Carlos pursed his lips sympathetically.
“This would be a beautiful place to live, if it wasn’t rife with gossip, bitching, rumours, in-fighting and envy!” Sylvia concluded.
Sylvia and Carlos were very relieved they didn’t have to get involved most of the time. They could keep themselves to themselves and enjoy the New Earth.
“Always grateful for the lift!” said Bull to Cedric as they soared over the terrain below them.
Thomas held out his arms, getting a thrill from letting go of Cedric’s back. The air around him smelled increasingly arid as they approached their destination.
The settlement where they had left Yuri would also be their home for the coming jubilee. Thomas and Bull had been through enough to be both exhilarated and filled with trepidation about the challenge ahead.
“This will be no picnic,” said Bull.
“True,” replied Thomas, arms still outstretched. “I believe we are going to see some rather uncomfortable days ahead.”
The Jubilee would be regularly interspersed with time back in Zion, but they would have to live among these hardened, criminal men for many years.
“I’ll be watching,” said Cedric in his deep resonant voice.
Knowing the giant Seraph was there keeping watch was a comfort to Bull and Thomas. Jesus wouldn’t be asking them to suffer without there being a clear sign of his presence and ultimate authority. Cedric was a reminder that everything would be working toward the reconciliation of all things.
“Hold on,” warned Cedric as he began his descent. Swooping low to land at the edge of the gorge, Bull and Thomas knew they’d have to be delivered in the same way as everyone else.
Cedric reached out a giant arm and gathered the two men into his chest. He took off again and dived down into the camp. After touching down, he allowed Bull and Thomas free, then Cedric nodded to them and took off toward his nest on the cliff top.