William Blake saw angels where others saw none, in and around London. He wrote of ‘Heaven’s Gate Set in Jerusalem’s Wall’, an image from the Revelation of John, chapter 21, where the New Jerusalem comes down from Heaven, a heavenly city, where God is so palpably present that no temple is needed.
In this world of sin, a Church building can be a place to concentrate awareness of God’s presence alone or in company; to hear God’s Word, to enter his mercy.
Heaven’s gate can be set in any wall, but Jerusalem has always held the imagination. People around 1300 considered it the centre of the whole round world, and if a visitor to Hereford could see this drawn on vellum in the Mappa Mundi. The Christian world saw Jerusalem as the place where salvation happened, but even the far-flung British Isles (at bottom left) were part of the picture. They still are, along with all that Terra Incognita – unknown to those who did not live there, at least: the Americas and Antipodes.
Blake may have been wary of organised religion, but still he resolved to persevere:
‘Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.’
And so should we persevere, building Jerusalem wherever we find ourselves. Maybe you or I will be an angel – a messenger of God – to someone we meet today. Let’s pray that we rise to that challenge when it comes, even if we are not aware of it at the time – or indeed, ever afterwards.
By Unknown – unesco.org.uk, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41201813