Who would not want God to wipe every tear from their eyes and remove causes for mourning, crying, and grieving—even death—from their life?
The visions that the narrator describes include the previous heaven and earth that have “passed away” before the new can be experienced and received. In the new dwelling place, God does not just visit but lives with human beings. As Eugene Peterson writes in The Message, “Look! God has moved into the neighborhood.” God no longer merely watches or intermittently engages but participates in all aspects of human lives. I imagine that people who cohabit the world with the Divine will then face death and losses of all kinds so differently that we will not mourn, cry, and suffer pain as we do now. Perhaps the seer of these marvelous visions is trying to help us imagine how we can experience such new blessings here and now, as long as we are willing to make room for God. We do not need to wait any longer if we are willing to see how all things and people can be made new.
In addition to imagining, it is essential to trust in the Alpha and Omega for power and provision. While readers receive no details about how the Almighty will eliminate human suffering, we hear that we will receive a taste of satisfaction like the thirsty receiving water from the spring of life. When Yahweh says, “It is done,” we can trust that all things are made new, most especially our lives. The challenge to us all is to be ready and willing to trust and accept with confidence the new and great blessings God offers us.
Dear God, creator of all that is past, our present, and our future, give us the courage to let go of what is familiar but draining so we can see and harvest the fruits of your new heaven and earth. Amen.
Change can be difficult. It is easy to get comfortable with what is familiar. In Acts, some in Jerusalem criticize Peter for having fellowship with the Gentiles. Peter explains that his actions are not his own idea but are inspired by a vision from God. This change leads to the spread of the gospel. Revelation speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. God cares for the earth that God created, but at the end of time everything will be changed and made better. In John, Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment, namely that they should love one another as he has loved them. This is how others will know that they are truly Jesus’ disciples. Psalm 148 is not about change but is pure praise for the works of the Lord.
Read Acts 11:1-18. God calls Peter to initiate change. How do you respond to changes in your church’s culture? How do you discern what changes are from God?
Read Psalm 148. The next time you sing, focus on praising God and sharing God’s love through your words and melody.
Read Revelation 21:1-6. How do you live a full life while waiting for the new heaven and new earth?
Read John 13:31-35. In the wake of betrayal, Jesus calls his followers to sacrificial love. When have you needed to heed the call to this type of love?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.