When our youngest son was about six or seven years old, my husband and I were commenting on the dire situation of the world. Our son piped up to say, “Well, God already created the earth and is now busy somewhere else.” He also implied that the task of caring for creation now fell to us. I affirm the truth in his statement, but Revelation offers a reminder that God has not gone far.
This text calls us to imagine a time of promise and hope when God will dwell among us, and all will be God’s people. Part of God’s dwelling involves being with us: wiping tears and eradicating death, mourning, crying, and pain. As I write this, with the devastating epidemic of ebola in Western Africa a frightening reality, this promise of a new earth would be welcome right away. We can think of many other endemic health situations or hunger or violence that create great suffering throughout the world.
The good news is that God responds through people, churches, and agencies that rise up to face these challenges. In Mexico, where I live, many people are saying that violence is not the last word, and they are organizing to create awareness. Families who have lost loved ones due to the war on drugs have organized the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity. And because hundreds of women have died violently because of their gender, women have organized to combat this scourge. Farmers losing their land to large business interests have organized to defend their way of life and the ecology of their ancestral lands.
God’s word is active and all-encompassing, a beginning and an end that frame reality, saying a loud NO! to pain and realities that are a living death to people everywhere. God’s new heaven and new earth offer a clean slate.
God of life and new beginnings, use me in spite of my limitations. Amen.