God Makes All Things New

And the one who was seated on the throne said,
“See, I am making all things new.” 
— Revelation 21:5 (NRSV)

This is one of my favorite bible verses, although I often forget about it altogether.

Butterfly--photo Julie McCarty--All rights reserved.In Chapter 21 of Revelation, the writer has a vision of a new heaven and a new earth. God reveals a “new Jerusalem” and the one seated on the throne says “Behold, I make all things new” (RSV). It is easy to dismiss this bible verse from our lives, viewing it only as a vision applying to either the past (Jesus’ ministry on earth) or the future (some day, in heaven).

However, Jesus taught us that the kingdom of God is already within our midst, in our lives, our hearts, and our communities (Luke 17:21). Sure, it’s not perfectly complete or fully expressed the way it will be after death, in heavenly glory when we behold the face of God. Even so, the spiritual kingdom of Christ has already begun, both in the life of Jesus and in those who follow his way.  

Jesus also said something else quite astonishing: that his followers would do even greater things than he did (John 14:12). Personally, I have trouble believing this is really so, but that’s what it says, right there in the bible. Christ did not come to earth just so we could maintain the status quo. God wants us to do great things–the kind of great things that Jesus did.

Is there some new work or service that God is inviting you to take up? Perhaps there is a fresh way to approach the work you already are doing, a way that would be more Christ-like?

Is there some new life the Holy Spirit wants to breathe into our faith communities? Our neighborhoods or schools? To improve how we serve others in need? To care for God’s creation around us in the environment? To spread the good news of God’s great compassion and mercy?

Will you pray with me?

Lord, sometimes it can be difficult to try new things. We may feel uncertain about what is the best choice for our future. We may be pushed to move beyond our “comfort zone.” Show us the path you desire for us, and give us the courage to follow you always, with humility, mercy, and love.

Until next time, Amen!

New Beginnings

The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”–Revelations 21:5

Click to enlarge--Butterfly near fountain at Eagan's Central Park--photo by Julie McCarty, 2011 All rights reserved.

The other day I was walking at Eagan’s Central Park and stopped to take pictures of this butterfly in front of the fountain. We had a little dance going: she would move her wings, I would, quick-snap-the-picture, while in the meantime she moved before the picture was complete. After awhile I tried to predict her next move, but I was mostly one step behind the lovely flying creature. 

Butterflies always remind me of new life, new opportunities, new chances to try to be something different or become a better person. How the caterpillar goes from one stage to the next inside its cocoon is certainly mysterious–and so it is with us humans, although we often miss the many ways we grow and change, even as adults.

In the book of Revelations, John has a vision of a new heavens and earth. He is told by God, “Behold, I make all things new.” Although this passage is about the coming kingdom at the end of time, it is also true that God brings about newness in our own lives, our own time–if only we let him. When we say “thy kingdom come,” we mean not only in some distant future in heaven, but also in the sense of bringing God’s will and compassion to life in the here and now.

School will be starting soon–or has already begun–in many places throughout the country. Sometimes I think that the starting of a new school year is more of a “new year” than January 1. New teachers, new books, new clothes, new classes–a new start on life. Even if you are not in school, many activities that were set aside for summer come to life once again in September.

What newness of life does God want for me, for you, at this particular point in our lives? What concrete steps might we take to cooperate with God’s desire for our lives? What single choice might I make this day to bring about a better world, at least in my little corner of it, just for today?

Click to enlarge--Open Butterfly--photo by Julie McCarty, 2011. All rights reserved.