“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).
The Bible begins with “In the beginning. . .” (Genesis 1:1) and ends with a beginning! The last book in the Bible sums up all of history by declaring that God will renew and remake all of creation. The old ways of selfishness, violence, and worry will forever disappear. Against all things cynical and discouraging, God promises that all of history -- and every aspect of our personal lives -- is moving toward a glorious goal. There is the elimination of everything and all that seek to block God’s magnificent pleasure and purpose. No more cowardice, unbelief, immorality, lying, self-glorification, death, or pain (Revelation 21:4,8). No more divided hearts or divided lives. No more ambivalence toward God or each other.
It is all because the Lamb -- Jesus -- is at the center of everything. Heaven is heaven because “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22). The Lord and the Lamb light up everything. Actually the Lord is the Lamb. “The nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it” (Revelation 21:24).
There will be no more Russia vs. the United States, or Democrat vs. Republican, or Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter, or Afghanistan vs. Taliban, or us vs. them.
Last month two beloved women passed from the pain and limitations of this life into the glory of the Lamb’s light. Jessie Twohill and Joan Hufford died within two weeks of each other. Both were longtime servants of the Lamb here at this church -- teaching, giving, and leading in their own ways. Both died in the spoken confidence that Jesus was so real and so worth living for. They joined the Church Triumphant confessing that all their decades at our church taught them to cherish their Eternal Home. They looked forward to being made new.
They were given into God’s care in the spirit of this prayer from The Book of Common Prayer --
In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend our sisters Jessie and Joan, and we commit their bodies to the ground; earth to earth; ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Lord bless them and keep them, the Lord make his face to shine upon them and be gracious unto them and give them peace. Amen.
Last month also Luca Mannellino and Annaelle Girard were baptized into our home here -- our church family -- as they live the lifelong journey toward the Eternal Home. It is the gospel hope that one day Jessie and Joan and Luca and Annaelle will bask before the Lord’s shining face.
In the last verses of the Old Testament the promise is made that a person like the old prophet Elijah would come and announce a newness in contrast the mixed historical record of humankind. This future prophet would “turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and hearts of the children to their parents” (Malachi 4:6). In the last verses of the New Testament it is announced that all those who trusted in Jesus will live totally reconciled with one another and with God. All the deep divisions and brokenness would be healed. “They will be [God’s] people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. There will be no more night” (Revelation 21:3).
Such a reconciliation would be a new thing here on earth! And it is coming. Kerry and I will be preaching this month on “Where Life Goes,” a series on the hope of eternal life.
Author Eugene Peterson wrote, “We are what we receive.” That certainly is true of new life in Christ. Jessie, Joan, Luca and Annaelle are bearing witness to that. May we all do well as we live into the newness of being the Body of Christ in 2019.