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All Saints' Sunday, November 4, 2018
Today’s Scripture Reading | Revelation 21:1–6
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, the 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, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then 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 water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.” (NRSV)
When I was in elementary school, everyone I knew was reading Left Behind. This series of religious novels told the story of the end times, or the apocalypse. The first novel begins with Christian believers disappearing from earth in what is commonly known as the rapture. The left behind are the unlucky disbelievers who must manage the fallout of this mass exodus. Those opening scenes of missing persons and falling airplanes were terrifying. And much to my distress, those images were all that my fellow fifth-graders wanted to talk about on the daily bus ride home.
One day after one of those dreaded conversations, I ran up my driveway and plowed through my front door hoping to find my mother. Instead, I found the kitchen sink faucet running, the dishwasher open, the television on, and my mother gone. Suddenly I was convinced that the day had come. Luckily for me, my mother had just walked into the other room to get a new roll of paper towels.
In the Book of Revelation, we are given a glimpse into those end times. We are told of a new heaven and a new earth in which God comes to make God’s dwelling among us. Tears are dried, death is destroyed, cancer and war are no more. Let’s be clear though: this isn’t a quick fix or some sort of jailbreak salvation in which we leave behind the pain and chaos of our world. In God’s reality, we stay put. God promises renewal, not escape.
In this new world, we partner with God in ways that allow this reign of God to be experienced through us. With our souls and bodies we bring about the new heaven and earth in which God dwells. The end is not near. It’s here. In God’s reality, the end is renewal.
O God, the Alpha and Omega, who makes all things new,
use me to bring about your reign of justice, mercy, and love.
Written by Shawn Fiedler, Ministerial Associate for Worship
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