Saturday, May 01, 2010

C, Easter 5 - Revelation 21:1-6 "ALL things New"

A new car – smell the upholstery. A new tractor – everything in it actually works; there’s no dust on the dash! A new toy – it’s the thing you’ve always wanted. A new home – feel the comfort and enjoy the cleanliness. A new pair of shoes – now you’re walking just a bit taller; you feel just a little bit more important today. A new piece of clothing – now you’re looking like a new person.

New things do something to all of us. The unused, the thing not previously present, the contrast with the old, the adventure of learning, exploring, touching, smelling, using and the experience of owning is a time of great excitement when we get something new.

As you dwelling on those wonderful feelings experienced when you get new earthly things, God invites you in the second last chapter of the bible to focus on an even greater new gift. And with it all the mystery, wonder, and joy of being immersed in the beauty of something new which will never lose its sheen, which will never lose its excitement, which will never lose its value.

Feast your heart on the eternal newness of God’s gift to you as we hear again what this gift is in Revelation chapter 21…

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Rev 21:1-6)

Imagine the wow factor the Apostle St John would have experienced when the angel of the Lord showed him this new heaven and new earth. Its newness so dazzling and so amazing; one could imagine it too good to be true.

However, God’s Word is one hundred percent true, and what he shows John is true, and the joy we will experience is something to truly look forward to and yearn for.

In this life, on this earth, we desire new things and love the good feelings they give us. But these things we receive as gifts from others, wear out, breakdown, fade, and fall apart. They are temporary at best. Or, we work and toil for new things. The same still happens; they just don’t last forever! And even worse, the efforts we go to get them, actually wears us out and breaks us down. They cause us grief, heartache, and tears when they go wrong or don’t work properly, only adding to the pace of our own downfall.

But the new heaven and the new earth – the holy city, the New Jerusalem is God’s gift to all who trust in him. For those who endure and persevere in this life with the faith God gives will receive a gift so incomprehensible no words or explanation can truly do it justice. Such is the beauty, the celebration, the joy, the relief, the never-ending newness of this heavenly gift God has for you!

And the amazing thing is he gives it to you despite who you are and he gives it to me despite what I have done. Your sins and my sins don’t count us out, when we allow God to continue making us new in this life. He does this when in faith you allow Jesus and the Holy Spirit to continue cleansing you from your sinful nature and the sin that spews from your sinful nature, so your sin and old nature have no power over you anymore. This is the power of God’s forgiveness in Christ which he calls you to believe.

We don’t fully understand or knowingly experience, the newness Christ and the Holy Spirit are working within. Yet in faith we’re called to trust its happening. When God says, “I am making all things new!” This is his promise to you and all of us; he is making each of us new too. Even now God is wiping away the tears which in the New Jerusalem will be wiped away forever.

But humanity as a whole and each of us as individuals struggles with the newness of this eternal gift from God. Not being able to understand or see, or fully experience this new heaven and earth now, leads us to want to shun the gift. Instead, we like to revert back to the old rather than the new.

It’s like a new pair of shoes being put aside for the old comfortable boots that don’t cause us any pain. The process of God making us new does involve some pain in this life, like blisters do with new shoes, as God reveals and bursts the blisters of our sinful nature, to bring us true eternal healing.

However, the new heaven and new earth God has for you, will be better than any new gift we might receive or thing for which we work in these days. God will be with us, face to face to fit us for heaven and heaven for us. Unlike the pain for gain you must endure in this life, there is, and will be, no payment for the gift God is giving to you. He promises, “To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” (Revelation 21:6)

God also promises you that in heaven, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4)

God’s promise to you is this: you also will be a part of this heavenly congregation when you believe in the one he has sent! (John 6:29) This gift of a new heaven and a new earth is for you; God’s personal gift to you won though the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ.

It is done! It is finished – at the cross, in the bestowal of faith at baptism, and in our trust that God has done and is doing this marvellous thing — He is making all things new! He is making you new, for your new heaven and earth.

Let the Holy Spirit write these things on your heart! For God’s Word is trustworthy and true! Amen.