Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!
A couple month ago we celebrated the Holy Communion together with Sue in her lovely apartment. She knew very well that her illness will progress and sooner rather than later she will have to leave this world and all of you behind.
What do we do as Christians, when our time to depart draws closer and closer, when we know that our days are numbered? We look to our God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, to our Creator and Redeemer, to provide for us hope, to provide for us encouragement, to reveal to us what is it, that He has prepared for those who love Him.
So that was exactly what we did on that memorable afternoon together with Sue. We listened to God’s own revelation, given to us for this very purpose, for our encouragement. We read from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible.
We read from the last two chapters in the book of Revelation. For they speak about what is to come. About something that no eye has ever seen and no ear has ever heard, and not man has ever imagined.
They reveal to us what our faithful and holy God has prepared for His chosen people – about blessed and joy filled life in His presence, about life with Him in restored and renewed heavens and earth, in His new creation.
We read these words of Revelation and we allowed the Spirit of God to fill us with joy, and excitement, and with deep longings to be there and to finally experience it. I will read you this message from our Lord and God Jesus Christ, as He had revealed it to His beloved disciple and faithful follower John the apostle. And let the Holy Spirit encourage us the same way as He did Sue on that day.
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. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also, he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
And he [the angel] said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
I can’t explain you in details what our God has prepared for us. No one can. For there are no analogies in our world to the things that our God has prepared for those who love Him. That is why John focuses on things that will no longer be there.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
All the things that make our lives miserable, that causes us to suffer… will be gone. Forever. Not for a day or month or year. Forever. No more crying, no more death, no more mourning, no more pain. Never again. Instead, our God will dwell among us, and we will see His face. And we will be made like Him. And we will reign with Him forever.
These are not our ideas. They are too beautiful and too daring. This is the encouragement that Jesus Christ sends us. His invitation to come to Him. This is why He says not once, but twice: “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And John the apostle did write these words down.
Now almost two millennia later, here in Barossa we can read them, by God’s grace they have reached us, Jesus’ message of encouragement and hope has reached us. The world looks differently, when you know where you are heading.
The worries and challenges of today don’t magically disappear, but they lose their significance. They can’t take away our joy and our peace. When we know what is to come. What has been prepared for us. What our God has promised to His people.
It changes everything. This hope transforms our lives. Here and now. It makes us to long for the age to come. It enables us to be kind and forgiving, generous and patient, it makes us beautiful, and it enables us to love and care for others more than ourselves.
It takes away the fear of death and gives us peace that comes from God. Jesus’ message brought all these things to Sue. Now she is not here anymore. Now she has been taken to see with her own eyes what we can only marvel about and hope for.
I pray that these words from the risen Christ Himself help you today the same way they helped Sue. And may the day come, when we all can experience the beauty of the New Heavens and New Earth together with all God’s saints.
And the peace of God which surpasses all our understanding keep your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.