29 December 2019.
During the Christmas season we celebrate the good news that Jesus Christ is Emmanuel, “God with us.” The Gospel stories tell how God, in his great love for us, left heaven to come and be with us, to share our lives, and to change our world. But celebrating Christmas doesn’t just mean looking backwards into the past. Christmas is also God’s promise to us for the future.
At the very end of the Bible, in Revelation 21, John describes this wonderful promise. At the end of all things God will once again leave heaven and come to live with us here on earth. In vv. 3–4 John describes hearing a heavenly voice shouting out this great news: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; and he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for all these things have passed away forever.”
Christmas gave us a first taste of this wonderful hope to come. At Christmas time each year we not only look backwards to Christ’s birth, but forwards to a future when God will come to live with us again. And we know that when he comes his presence will change everything. When God comes, all pain and suffering will be gone, and everything that hurts us and our world will be wiped away. Best of all, in v. 5 God announces the core hope of our entire faith when he proclaims: “Look, I am making all things new.”
We know our lives are imperfect. We are all broken in so many ways. But God’s promise is that he is bringing healing and transformation. Under the power of God’s love he will change us and transform all things, making us new, making us into what we were always meant to be. And this hope isn’t just for us alone. God’s promise is that he is making all things new. God’s love will flood out over this whole creation transforming everything it touches, wiping away sin and hurt and brokenness, and healing all things. And God’s loving power won’t stop changing everything it touches until truly “all things” throughout all creation are made perfect and whole again, and we are left gazing in wonder over beautifully transformed “new heavens” and a “new earth” (v. 1). These words sound too wonderful to be true, but in v. 5 God commands John directly to “write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
The core hope of our faith is that “God is making all things new”: heaven and earth, our world and our societies, and our own lives too. And the good news is that we don’t have to wait for that final day to see this change happen. At the end of all time that change will finally be complete, but God is already here with us and he is already at work changing our world and our lives. In those places where peace and compassion reign, we see God already changing our world. When we treat others with love and respect and are treated that way by others, we see God at work changing our society. And when the hate and hurt and bitterness we hold in our hearts is replaced by peacefulness and love, we can feel God at work truly rebuilding our lives into something beautifully new.
As we enter into a new year, I hope each of us will remember this good news and truly trust in it: There are no hurts that last forever; all evil and injustice will end, and all suffering and pain will be wiped away – because God is with us and his loving hands are indeed making all things new.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis