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. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4 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.”
What a great vision that is! There’s something compelling about it that draws us. It speaks a deeply relevant word of hope to our sisters and brothers in 3rd World countries all over the globe, and it speaks to our own deepest longings. Is there anyone on earth who wouldn’t like an end to death and pain and sorrow? We live in a world where pain is a universal fact, where tears come to everyone, where the mortality rate is exactly 100%. We know that fear and sorrow are major themes, that death and pain are here to stay, and that human life is a profound mixture of joy and sadness. Still we can’t help dreaming, dreaming of a day when everything will be good and right and glad and beautiful. “A new heaven and a new earth”—that’s the dream.
In Joyce Carey’s novel, The Horse’s Mouth, there’s a marvelous picture of a half-mad artist, swinging from a high scaffold, trying to paint a picture of the Creation on the walls of a condemned building. What a wonderful image of our Christian hope and vocation: painting the new creation on a condemned world, knowing that even if the world were to pass away, the image would live, by the power of God. “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away….And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down…from God….and I heard a loud voice saying, “See, I am making all things new…!” (vs. 5) We are called to live in the world with that kind of vision, seeing our world in the light of God’s new creation, living in the faith and hope that says, “Yes! Our God IS making all things new, even now!”
Lord, may it be so, and may we live in that hope. Amen.