Saturday, October 31, 2009

B, All Saints - Revelation 21:1-6a "Temporary Tears"

One cannot help but notice in the readings today the mentioning of tears. In Isaiah 25 we're told, "The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth." (Isaiah 25:8)

Then in Revelation 21 the same is said, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes." And in the Gospel of John we hear of many mourning over the death of Jesus' friend Lazarus. "When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 'Where have you laid him?' he asked. 'Come and see, Lord,' they replied. Jesus wept." (John 11:33-35)

Our tears, other people's tears, and Jesus' tears! Tears are caused by hardship. Tears of deep sadness, tears from pain, tears of torment, tears of relief — tears come as a result of the turmoil we face on this earth.

Jesus was not immune from the tears we shed. He too cried. Jesus cried here at Lazarus' death, he cried over Jerusalem as he marched into the city on Palm Sunday, and he shed bitter tears as he prayed and placed himself under the submission of God's will just prior to his crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Also contrary to Christmas Carol tradition, Jesus as an infant would have cried as he experienced the ebbs and flows of human behaviour.

The human ability to shed tears is so common in our lives. Even the most hardened individual knows what it is to shed tears. And even more, we all experience the emotions which undergird and cause tears to well in our eyes.

Tears come as release allowing restoration to occur. When one holds back tears they usually do so to the detriment of their own health. It is healthy to cry even if the situation which causes us to break down is far from healthy. A big cry, as painful as it might be, is good for the soul.

Tears reveal our weakness. Perhaps this is why men try to suck up their tears. A person's tears also reveal weakness in others too. Children learn very quickly how to "turn on the tears" to get what they want from mum and dad; especially when in public.

Jesus' tears were human tears too. He was weak, his human flesh suffered, but not as a result of what he did. Jesus bore the frailty of human weakness, yet he did not succumb to the weakness he bore. Jesus' tears came as a result of our weak will against sin. He suffered seeing what sin does to us in our weakness.

Our weakness moved Jesus to take the toughest stand one could take against our weakness. And surprisingly this was to become our weakness on the cross. Our tears became Jesus' tears. Where one would expect our Saviour to stand tough and tall over the turmoil and tears of sin, Jesus came down to take our toil and tears on himself. A weak and wretched man, a body beaten and broken, tears shed till no more could be shed.

But tears are temporary for those whose trust is in the Lord. Our tears take us to the foot of the cross. Our tears and weakness teach us to trust Jesus. Where do your tears take you?

When we fail and the weakness of our will wreaks havoc in our lives and the lives of those we love, let your tears take you to Jesus. Let your tears testify to the glory of God. Let God recall you and refuel you with faith and hope to carry on in these days of weakness and tears. Let our tears be tears of relief and joy as we rest in Jesus' forgiveness.

Don't be like Judas and those whose tears lead them into greater terrors of weeping and gnashing of teeth! But rather, let your tears lead you to offer up prayers to God as sweet and fragrant offerings before him, seeking his mercy and therefore giving him glory.

Like a car which leaks oil and needs to be taken back to the manufacturer for modification, we too will be recalled to our maker. But we will be made better than new!

Like a car our leaking weakness will lead us to break down in death, which is the primary cause of all our tears. But our trust in Christ's death and resurrection will also allow God to lead us through our tears and sin and death into something new, something better, and something more everlasting than the temporary tears we toil with now.

Temporary tears will be replaced with permanent perfection. We and God will be together forever! Nothing will separate us from him ever again. In this place of perfection we hear…

"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 21:3b-6a)

The good news for you and for me is that when we abide with him and uphold what he has written in his word, holding it as trustworthy and true, our temporary tears are but a watery veil of what is already our reality.

And that reality is this: God is making us his new creation. He has done it, he is doing it, and he will do it! It was finished at the cross and our baptism! It is finished, right now in this moment! And it will be finished in our death and resurrection recall where we finally see the reality of what we have already been made — saints made holy and right before our Holy Father, Son and Spirit!

Jesus Christ's work is done at the cross and in believing we already have the victory in he who is our beginning and end, our Alpha and Omega. Amen.