Tag: Easter 5C

FUTURE HOPE NOW

Sermon, Easter 5C, Sunday May 19, 2019hope, tshirt, holding on to hope

Revelation 21:1–6

Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell 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”[b] 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. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

 

 

There are two guys given a job. The job is to put the widget on the wadget, the whole day long. They have this mind numbing, tedious job to do for one year.

One guy is told that he will be paid $20,000 for his year’s work. The other guy is told that he will be paid $20, 000,000 for the same job. How do you think the two guys will go about their work?!

One guy will be bored and lifeless. He will take as long as he can to get to work. He will spend most of his time telling his friends that his life sucks, his job sucks, and that he has got little to live for. He will display little hope.

The other guy on $20 million will be whistling to work every morning, offering to get the other guy a coffee every day, telling his friends that he loves his work, that he can’t wait for the future because it is so bright and his life and work make sense and mean something to him. He will be displaying overflowing (and annoying!) hope.

Your future shapes your present. What you know is going to happen in your future determines your now. What you hope in for your future directly shapes your living.

Did you hear your future this morning? I did.

Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’[a]for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband …..

Hang on. That is here – ‘a new heaven(sky) and a new earth,’. We are not floating off to it, but it is coming to us and it what we already know – in part: earth, sky, city, garden, river….

See how God’s heaven has nothing to do with this idea that our spirit gets to fly off to some cloud and play the harp all day long forever?!

How can this be?

Resurrection: Easter Resurrection: Jesus’ resurrection was not just a happy ending to the sad story of his life and death. Jesus’ resurrection was God doing this: bringing about his totally new creation right in the middle of the old one (Ephesians 1:7-10, 2 Corinthians 5:16-18, Galatians 6:11-15).

As you hear those post-Easter accounts and ponder this grand vision, you will hear the first Christians grasping for words to tell you the full magnitude of what happened.

They say things like;

Jesus is raised, so now you can believe that he is the long-promised Saviour of whom the prophets always spoke.

Jesus is raised, God’s promised new creation spoken right from the beginning and throughout the story of God’s people so far has begun.

All those promises about new garden, killing the serpent, the new temple of worship, the new people of worship – the Israelites in the desert and promised land, the stunning words of the prophets about a new creation, a new saviour, a new human, a new heaven and earth, David’s words about a new king and a new nation, Ezekiel’s words about a new heart in new humans in sync with God’s heart – all have landed here in Jesus in full.

Even more stunning: Jesus is raised not to be a floating soul but a human body still. Jesus eats and drinks and speaks as he always did. Jesus is called the ‘first fruits” of the tree. We are the fruit that has come after him. We can trust that we will also be raised in total – body, mind spirit – all of me, all of you and you will be still you and me still me but “glorified” whatever that looks like.

Friends, can you hear it: Your life is not centred on “going to heaven when you die”, but living in God’s new sky and earth now, and doing so humanly, bodily as all of you and every part of you and your life.

You might find this challenging because it challenges a very well accepted long held belief….

We do say we believe in the “(bodily) resurrection of the dead”, but I suspect that hardy any of us actually believe it. I suspect most of us actually believe some good old fashioned ancient Greek philosophy first spoken by Plato.

His idea was that we humans have an eternal soul that is imprisoned in the physical body and that when we die, that eternal spirit flies off to the great beyond. He separated the human being into parts – spirit and physical matter (body).

The two parts of different value – the spirit is our essence, the real you, the bit that really counts because it lives forever. The body then is nothing – just a shell, just something to leave, because it is temporary. Flight from it is the goal – like a moth leaving its cocoon.

But how?

In the East, the Hindu believes in an eternal soul: karma outworks itself in your life and you will come back after death, and depending on how you did, you would hopefully live on as a higher being. The Buddhist hopes that after death she will lose all identity and individuality and simply disappear like a drop in the ocean.

In our West, Renee Descartes was the one who said, “I think, therefore I am”. So, my eternal core identity; my spirit, the real centre of me as a parson is capacity to think, not my physical body. That means nothing.

Friends, this is not the biblical truth of who we actually are. You can see it here. God’s new creation is a new earth, new sky, new animals, rocks, trees, streams of living water; even a new city to live in.

And live we shall. Jesus was bodily resurrected. He ate, he drank, he spoke, he breathed, he cooked fish on the beach, and he had those wounds that death inflicted. As he is raised in the new creation, so we live now in the new creation – body, mind, spirit – all of you, all of me and not just in the future but now.

But how?

Baptism: When you were baptised you were buried with Christ and raised with Christ. You were what? “Born again”, as Nicodemus found out. New creation; that’s you. “All things made new”. Born again into this new creation right in the middle of the old dying one.

Can you trust that you are not just waiting to go to some far off spirit place when you die? We are being called to live now in God’s already begun new creation here – new earth, new sky; or shorthand – his ‘Kingdom”.

FUTURE HOPE NOW. This wonderful future already now is the $20 million plus!

And even more, if there could be more hope: There is no sea. There is earth and sky, but no sea.

Why?

For John as a non-sea faring Jewish person, the sea is always the place of evil, chaos, dark forces, murderous creatures that bring destruction and death into the world. There is no sea – no death, no destructive evil, no chaotic violence and terror, no tears.

There is water – “water without cost from the spring of the water of life”.

Jesus is the ‘living water’, you remember. The Samaritan woman at the well heard that. Jesus also thirsted on that cross of death. He thirsted for the water so we could have the Living Water for life.

We have tasted death this week and we will again. I don’t like it. None of us do. But God does not like it either. God has killed death. Death is actually dead as far as God is concerned.

We are not “going to heaven when we die” but heaven in coming to us so we can live.

Friends, Jesus is raised, death is dead. You were dead in your sin and now you alive in Christ.

And the dead? His beloved ones rest in him until that great final resurrection when all evil will be reckoned rightly, and all the living and the dead will be raised – some for this final complete new creation garden-city of living water without chaos or fear and evil or a tear of grief or pain, and hopefully hardly anyone for this old dying creation.

And that is where we are in this. We have work to do while it is still day!

We have hope to give sinners.

We have an earth to fight for and tend.

We have bodies to tend – our own and others’.

We have everything to give because we have future hope now. We will not miss out on a thing. The $20 million is a drop in the ocean!

Your future determines your now. It’s a good future. It’s a good now.

So, live and pray with Jesus everyday –

“Your new creation come, ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.

Amen

The world according to God (with Group Prompters)

Sermon, Easter 5C, Sunday April 28, 2013, St Petrimonika_07

The world according to God

Revelation 21:1-6

 1 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 as their God; 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.”

5 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.”

6 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.

I caught a glimpse of heaven this week – in three places or maybe even more. No, it was not myself looking at myself in the mirror! No, it was not enjoying a rare bottle of red.

It was God making something new happen right before my eyes and ringing in my ears. It was the God of love in action transforming ordinary people and place into his people and place – God breaking into the old city with his new city of which John speaks this morning.

ONE: Hearing, seeing and just being among that large gathering of God’s people at Pastor’s Conference, Convention and Alive 175!; Praying listening to the gospel word, singing….- that was a glimpse of God’s new city breaking in on the old city that is dying.

TWO: Yesterday, seeing a beautiful young bride make her way across the grass at Yalumba to be married before God and two families. This was a glimpse of heaven too. Not because of the bride’s beauty, but because it was a living sign of this word of the Lord where the bride and bridegroom meet in joy in this new city of God’s love called ‘the new Jerusalem’.

THREE: Visiting an aunty late at night in Modbury hospital who was full of faith and joy as she prayed to the Lord to take her home to her rest. He did and she is. The love and quiet joy of the faith-filled funeral on Friday made the glimpse of heaven linger….

John is allowed to see heaven – an alternative view of what is going on down here. He is enabled to see and hear God making things new. God making a new city come down on top of the dying old city. He sees God’s new Jerusalem, adorned as a beautiful and faithful bride coming down to meet her husband. He sees the church still on the journey living amid the dying but still powerful, unfaithful and destructive city, Babylon.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES

In God’s view of our human life, Babylon is the city of tears, injustice, sexual promiscuity, violence, structural poverty, power plays, politics of greed and dying, a city crumbling to complete destruction and death….

In God’s new city that is a present reality, if only we could see it, Jerusalem is the city of light, hope, lasting peace, community, love. It is God alternative city actually operating in parallel to the old city. We actually are taken into this city every time we gather in Jesus name…..

In Paul’s letters it is the church who is the bride, but in Revelation the bride is much more. The bride represents the whole renewed world, radiant and holy. (Revelation 21:3) With great tenderness God wipes away people’s tears.

The old city tries to copy the new but is no match for it. Babylon, with all its bravado, neon lights, human creativity and rebelliousness is dying and crumbling while God’s new city of hope, is growing, being made new every second, taking up its complete victory over the old way, the old city.

The question for modern day Christians is which one will we see. Which one do we seek the most? In which one do find our rest and our home? And by what means do we see it?

How do you see the old city? You see the old city by means of human will, human sight, human vision, human control and skills. It is a city of violence, injustice and human weakness and failure, even though it pretends to be a city of power and future and self-made beauty.

As we survey the old city with all its trouble, we mistakenly believe that we can create the new city of hope, love, joy, freedom, peace by our own means and methods. From autocratic political leaders to controlling fathers, mothers, colleagues and friends, we attempt to “make the world a better place”, as we say. But we can’t. In fact, without God’s intervention in the giving of the gift of faith in his grace and mercy toward his creation, we just have no clue that the new city of God’s light and love even exists, let alone is active in our own lives and our world.

How do you ‘see’ the new city? You don’t really see the new city of God by just your eyesight – but first with your ears. John hears this picture. John hears and he then sees the new city. Only with the eyes of faith in the Lamb who sits on the throne, the crucified and risen Jesus, you hear God’s promises and God’s revealing of how hew making all things new and then you see the new city breaking in on the old. Ordinary things become glimpses of heaven tight here in this dying world.

Again, as you survey your life, which city will you choose to see son or daughter of the Lord? Will we strive to try and make the old city new or will we rest in the new city already made and present by God’s grace?

John lives in both cities, like us. He, like us, is privileged to see and hear both – and like a man bringing home his brand new car to show the family, John gets the share what he now has with great joy.

For the second time only, throughout the whole book of revelation with its four visions, John hears God himself directly address him and his new city.

“See”, says God. “See this”. Check this out”! In the original language, “See, new”. “See, new I am making all things”. Not, “I will one day”, or “I could”, or “I might”, but “I am” now making all things, creatures, people, rocks, stars, new.

And the amazing and very unique thing about this? The new hope-filled city of God comes down from heaven. There is no rapture here. God is not found by escaping the old city but God transforms the old city every moment of every day.

We don’t need to look to the skies and seek heavenly realities out there somewhere – the Heavenly Man is here. Heaven is here too. Jesus is here. His crucified glory is here right here in the mess of life. Earth really is our home – a home being renovated, renewed and re-born all the time by Jesus.

A bit of C.S. Lewis may help here….. In his vision of “New Narnia” Lewis depicts New Narnia not as an escape from the old Narnia, but rather an entry more deeply into the very same place. Everything is more radiant. It is “deeper country.” New Narnia is “world within world,” where “no good thing is destroyed” (C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, New York, Macmillan, 1956, 181).

With the eyes of Faith in the “Lamb who sits on the throne”, the beginning of everything and the end of everything, we Christians see the new Jerusalem right in the midst of the old city we still have to live in – for now at least.

Nowhere, as far as John’s vision of the new city in Revelation, or indeed in Paul’s vision of the local Christian community, or in Jesus’ vision of himself being “glorified” before the world as he is lifted up on the throne of the cross for the life of the world do we see the new Jerusalem than in the worship gathering of God’s people.

Wherever two or three of God’s forgiven and chosen people gather in his name to seek him, hear his voice, drink from the deep wells of his living water of faith, hope and love do you and I as dwellers in the crumbling but still powerful old city receive the alternative reality of the Lord breaking in our little hearts and minds and opening up our vision of God making all things new.

It does not matter if you feel anything much in worship. It is God making you new. It does not really matter what style of music we use. It is the new city being given to us for joy.

It does not matter the building, the type of chairs, the clothing of the priest or the people, it is God’s new city being built right there and then by his powerful Word.

Every time we gather here in this old city town, God allows us to stand with John and all those who have gone before us in the faith and have now entered the heavenly Jerusalem where the Lord himself gently wipes every tear from their eyes. Where Death is no more; mourning and crying and pain are no more, because the first things have passed away”.

What shall we do with our privileged standing? We would be best to do what John was called to do and what people of the new Jerusalem always are called by the Lamb who sits on the throne to do…

See

New

Write/Say

As we receive what God is doing on a daily basis with each of us in this sign of the new city in this town, we will hopeful, joyful, peaceful and therefore unstoppable!

We will be that man bringing the new car to show the family who we have behold with our ears and eyes.

We will be John, telling the story. We will live and tell it uncompromising but full of love for the Lamb and for his world.

We will be that husband committed to receiving his beautiful bride as he sees her coming into his life for the longest time.

Friends, it is all done. This is no pipe dream, crazy man’s delusion or poetic license. This is the crucified Lamb sounding out himself – his presence, his active renewal of our old city with its ego and weakness and competitiveness and rebellion into lasting victory over all enemies, all weakness, all sins, all hate, all disunity, all fears and tears.

Will you receive his new city, his alternative view of your world more and more? Or again, will you settle for the little you know and can control?

John had no control and yet he was filled with joy and love and a hope against all hopes. So are we. Not because we are the beginning and end but because the Lord of Church is the our beginning and our end and our in-between.

See

New

Say

Amen

GROUP PROMPTERS

1. Do you often feel that you need to ‘escape’ the world to somehow find God?

2. What does this text with the new Jerusalem say to you about where God is and where he is to be found?

3. What did you think about the statement in the sermon, “We don’t need to look to the skies and seek heavenly realities out there somewhere – the Heavenly Man is here. Heaven is here too. Jesus is here. His crucified glory is here right here in the mess of life. Earth really is our home – a home being renovated, renewed and re-born all the time by Jesus”.

4. Do you find yourself trying to make things better for yourself and your family and friends in your own way rather than resting in God’s presence and action for you to bring in his new city in your life? If so, how do you do this?

5. What glimpses of the new Jerusalem of God’s love and light have you had recently?

6. How can we help each other “hear” and “see” God’s new city of life and love as a local Christian church?