Revelation 21:1-7 (NRSV)
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. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“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;
4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve dreamt of all of the continents coming together to form one giant continent. A world where we are not divided up. That means there would be no seas between us. See, the writer of Revelation 21 speaks of this vision. It’s a vision where God’s church is made perfect and whole by bringing all who love God together to form the ultimate church.
Recent studies show a decline of church attendance and an increasing proportion of Americans with no religious preference. There are countless reasons as to why this is happening, and it can be disheartening. We’ve let the proverbial “sea” separate us. I don’t think the writer meant that God would literally get rid of the sea. I choose to believe that God, in this new heaven and earth, will do away with all that separates us. We are reminded of this at weddings. In Matthew 19:6 is says: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” A bride adorned for her husband. You and me adorned for God. Earth adorned for the Kingdom of Heaven.
This kingdom is not newly created, but newly opened. We are being told of a new heaven and a new earth repeatedly in scripture, as this month of devotionals showed us. What gives me hope is that this old world will pass away along with all of its anxiety, troubles and strife. We have let the “sea” of race, politics, life, beliefs, sins, separate us from each other and from God. We weren’t created for that. God is right here with us each and every day. We get the chance to work alongside God in bringing this new heaven to earth every morning when we wake up. Verse 3, “See, the home of God is among mortals,” gives me chills and is what keeps me going each day. God is not separate from us. We get to be in this work of wiping tears, getting rid of pain and loving each other. And you can’t wipe tears or love each other if we keep letting the “sea” divide us.
God’s church is not in decline; it’s gathering strength. It’s breaking down barriers. It’s making the “sea” no more.
Breaker of Chains, First, we thank you for showing up by our sides every day. We want to be in this relationship with you that no man can put asunder. It’s so hard sometimes when we allow things to separate us from each other, from you, and from your forever church. God, restore in me the hope of a new earth and a new heaven. I love you, God. You are the Alpha and Omega. My beginning and end. Amen.