New Year’s Day (January 1, 2018)
- First reading
- Second reading
Revelation 21:1-6 | New Living Translation (NLT)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End.
Today is the first day of a New Year. Several weeks ago, we celebrated the beginning of a new liturgical year. There’s something nice about the new year. It can be a time for new beginnings. We can say goodbye to the old and hello to the new. In today’s scripture we are in Revelation and John is seeing a vision of the new heaven and new earth. In his vision, he sees that everything old has disappeared and the new has come.
Interesting note about this passage comes at the end of the first verse. John writes “and the sea was also gone.” In all of his previous visions in heaven there was always a sea.” You may remember that part of the Old Testament temple furnishings was a very large – think swimming pool sized – basin. The name for it was the sea. The people of ancient times saw the sea much different than we do. It’s interesting that Jesus called fishermen to be his disciples. Fishermen worked the seas. In ancient times, they believed that the seas were a door to the underworld. No wonder people where scared when the seas started thrashing around during a storm. There is a feeling that the sea symbolizes our separation from God – because of our sinfulness. In all the other passages, John is looking from a distance, but in this description the sea is gone — representing that in the new heaven and new earth, our sin no longer separates us from God.
Here again, John writes about God dwelling with his people and making his home among them. The new heaven and new earth will be a wonderful place of new beginnings and a home that will never end. All the cares of this life will be gone forever.
This passage is a reminder that Jesus is in the transformation business. It is a great reminder on this first day of the new year, that Jesus desires to transform us into his image. I know for me, that I want 2018 to be a better year in terms of fitness. But I also want to be made new in terms of being his disciple. I want to be transformed into his image in the here and now. Yes, I want to be part of that great New Jerusalem, but I want to be transformed more into his image every day.
Our prayer today should be: “Lord, help make me new!”