Toward the end of Revelation, John receives a vision of God's future plan for the faithful. Throughout most of his vision, John offers a word of encouragement to followers of Jesus who are experiencing persecution. He does not claim to be an apostle or to hold any special position in the church. John's only authority for writing to Christians who are suffering for their faith comes from his having suffered too. He writes from exile on the island of Patmos.
The one word of hope that echoes throughout John's vision is that the future belongs to God. God's future promises the end of death and pain. The coming of the city of God will exhibit the festivity of a marriage feast. Those who have wept will have their tears wiped by the very hand of God.
As we begin a new year, those of us who have acquired many things and who hold positions of power in the church and the world may not hear John's warning that this world will pass away as particularly good news. Still those around the world who struggle to live from day to day and who suffer for their faith hear with open ears and hearts the good news of God's new heaven and new earth.
God, you wipe away all tears and invite me into a new creation. Help me to hear with joy your promises for the future. Amen.
These scriptures chosen to mark the new year give us a panorama of perspectives, from Ecclesiastes as a poetic musing on how life is measured out in seasons, to the vision in Revelation of what we commonly consider the end of time itself. Psalm 8 asks what the role is for humans in God’s magnificent creation. At the core of these scriptures is a strong sense of God’s presence and loving steadfastness in which we can rest.
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-13. In what season of life do you find yourself? What are you praying for in this season?
Read Psalm 8. How do you feel when you read the psalmist’s words that God has created humans “a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5)?
Read Revelation 21:1-6a. How is the vision of a new heaven and new earth described here good news for you? What do you see God making new in the world around you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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