13th Sunday after Pentecost – September 3, 2017
Revelation 21:1-6; 22:1-5 and John 16:20-22
The beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, the Garden of Eden in Genesis and the garden containing the tree of life in Revelation. God is the beginning and end of all things. This is not a threat for the end of humanity. It is a promise that there is nothing outside the confines of an immense, timeless, and loving God.
Three weeks ago we started the mini-series of messages on Revelation, by looking at God the Creator (the first part), who is to be worshipped in for all that God is. Then we saw briefly how everything fell into disarray since the metaphoric description of the Fall in the Garden of Eden where the serpent deceived the “first” human couple, Adam and Eve. Creation is still in disarray. But Jesus, the mighty Lion of Judah, depicting his ancestry from the mighty king David, became the Lamb of God by being vulnerable in order to redeem the whole of creation (the second part). Why don’t we see any of it? Humans get to write the piece inbetween, which we saw last week (the third part). And now – the fourth part – today we see the Promise and Hope. There is not a threat to humanity, no, we are wrapped up in God’s wonderful promise.
Perhaps you happen to be a The Walking Dead junkie. It is, of course, a drama about the end of life as we know it, as zombies overrun the earth and small bands of humans try to survive in this terrifying new world. What is so intriguing about this show, once the shock of the zombie apocalypse wears off, is the question about what it is to be human. Is it enough simply to survive? In this world that looks nothing like what it used to, these survivors have discovered that survival is not enough. To be truly human is to risk love (couples, families, and friends) despite the very real possibility of losing those that are loved. In the midst of terrible tragedy, people have found love, laughter, music, art, farming, community meals, and many of the beautiful things they thought they had lost forever – and yes, even faith.
Though far-fetched, the show helps us wrestle with the questions of what it is to be human, and it is this – in the midst of tragedies and suffering, there is still hope, laughter, beauty, faith, and love.
If we didn’t live with this hope, our lives would be extremely senseless, as the apostle Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 15:19 “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” I would dare say that this is the one aspect of our faith that sets us aside, and that as soon as we lose this hope, our faith has become null and void.
There is so much hope. This is the hope that endeavours for new perspectives in life. This is the hope that wants the love of Jesus Christ to be the only measure for looking at our fellow human being, regardless of race, creed and yes, regardless of sexuality.
This is the hope that sets people free to toil tirelessly amidst wildfires, hurricanes, knowing that it will never be in vain.
As John, the gospel-writer puts it in the section we read this morning: “We might have pain now; but Christ will see us again, and our hearts will rejoice, and no one will take our joy from us.”
The promise of God for the new creation is alive and our hope reaches out for the time when God makes all things new.
Copyright 2017 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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