22 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 2 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. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. Revelation 22:1-5 NIV
For several years now I can’t seem to shake this vision of John on the island of Patmos.
In particular I can’t seem to shake the vision of the River of the water of life, surrounded by the Tree of Life on both sides.
The fact that a river and a tree are the central feature of the City of God, and flow from the throne of God holds my attention. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with the saying, “and the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations….” I get it stuck in my head all of the time.
Maybe it is because rivers and trees are so essential to life on our planet and we’ve both taken them for granted and for some also just realized how vital they are for our future, and how endangered they are.
Maybe it is because the New Heaven and New Earth feature creation at the heart of the most perfect city, both flowing from and being deeply rooted and centered in the throne of the lamb.
And now in the age of our apocalypse, I wonder what John was trying to say to the faithful followers of Jesus who were struggling with doubt and confusion, anger and worry when the world around them as they knew was going wrong and Jesus hadn’t come back yet, like he promised.
I am sure John was writing at a time when good people they adored were suffering for no fault of their own. And everyone’s faith was wearing thin…
And then John had this vision…a flowing river and the Tree of Life.
All I know is that rivers are always moving, flowing, going somewhere. And trees, healthy trees, are always growing, converting our wasted air (CO2) into their energy. Trees are always reaching outward, upward, and also staying grounded and rooted at the same time.
I can’t imagine a better image for Hesston College’s new Center for Anabaptist Leadership and Learning.
Hesston College and the Center for Anabaptist Leadership and Learning have deep, deep roots and we are committed to the Anabaptist tradition which was founded on being grounded in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Like the early Anabaptists, we believe that tradition is not the place to start our mission and vision, but we have to go back to Jesus, scripture and the early church. We are centered and grounded and rooted in Christ.
And we are also reaching upward, and outward, and growing in many directions and by the grace of God bearing fruit worthy of God’s kingdom. We believe we are on a global mission, rich in diversity and possibility. We believe that missional incarnational living is the future of the Church and we want to produce leaders who are equipped and empowered to enter the changing landscape of church and diverse cultures with confidence.
We are excited to begin this journey, walking alongside the Church as companions and co-learners of God’s big, big story.
We welcome you to join us in this new adventure.