Psalm 61:3

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

All Things New

Revelation 21:1-7

Things that have been corrupted can be restored.  It is best if they never fall into disrepair, but they can usually be saved and restored. 

Some of you have taken the time to restore an old tractor.  What started out as a rusty, over used piece of farm equipment has become fit for riding in parades or putting in a fair show.

Some of you may have taken the time to restore a house.  The building might have needed a lot of work, some updating and modernizing, but in the end it became a real home again.

Left to themselves, these things, tractors, cars, homes, they fall apart.  They will not stay strong, sturdy, and dependable forever.  In fact, in-and-of-themselves, they are worthless sitting there in disrepair.  They are good for nothing. 

But if the right person comes along, the person who will care for the item, who will put the time and energy into restoring it, a person with the right set of tools, what was old and decrepit can be revitalized and rejuvenated. 

It is, perhaps, fitting that this text from Revelation 21 falls today, at the end of the so-called “Earth Week”.  The secular world, especially NBC, has been pushing us all to consider being more “green”.  They want you to buy new light bulbs, use less water, recycle, and burn less gas.  The popular term is to diminish your carbon footprint.

Whatever you think of such things, it is without doubt that the world is falling apart around us.  This, of course, is nothing new.  The curse of modern media is that anything on the nightly news automatically become a new problem, even if it has been around for thousands of years.

The world has been decaying from the very moment that Adam and Eve fell into temptation.  From the very first bite of that forbidden fruit, the seas have been beyond our control, animals have resisted our training, and the weather has not wanted to cooperate with our plans.

The world is dangerous and deadly.  And that is a result of sin; my sin, your sin, the sin of the whole world.  And there is nothing that we can do to change that.

There is nothing wrong with trying to conserve energy, recycling, and being conscious of your carbon footprint.  What is wrong, and extremely arrogant of us, is to think that we can save the world.  

You and I, with all of our green efforts, cannot save the earth from destruction.  John saw it in his vision.  Jesus has declared it in the gospels.  The world will come to an end, but not because we allow it to decoy.  It will be destroyed because God will bring it to an end that He may put something better in its place.

With all our efforts we are merely pushing against the inevitable.  This world will come to an end.  Its downward spiral of decay and destruction began thousands of years ago and our feeble efforts will not stop it.

Humanity, also, is corrupted beyond repair.  And as human beings we can look at this from two angles: the body and the spirit.  

Obviously our human bodies are corrupted and decaying.  From the moment a child is conceived we know that it will also die.  Every person gets sick, has physical weaknesses, and suffers in many and various ways.

You have all experienced the decaying of your body in one form or another.  Even the very young have gotten ill, been injured, and seen the reality of their mortality, and everyone else’s.

And you cannot save yourself from this.  No matter what technological advances we make, no matter the amount of exercise and proper diet you endure, you cannot stop the constant decay of your flesh.  You may slow it down, prevent it for a brief season, but not forever.

But we may also approach this corruption and decay from the point of view of the spirit.  Not only are our bodies decaying by the moment, but our spirits as well.  We have fallen under the corruption of sin and evil.  

This has to do, not only with how we act, but with our very nature, who we are.  We are sinners, corrupted by evil through and through.  This is so true that Saint Paul exclaims at one point: the good that I want to do I cannot do; who will save me from this body of death?!  

Like an old tractor sitting in the junk yard waiting to be sold for scrap, our spirits endure day after day of the harsh weather unleashed by our own evil deeds and those of the world around us.  Our soul deteriorates at a rapid pace.  And there is nothing that we can do to stop it.  It is beyond our control, beyond our power to save.

Sin is a corrupting force.  And whether it is the earth, our bodies, or our spirits, all things under the influence of sin are eventually destroyed.  The earth will come to an end.  Your body will be destroyed.  You soul will be trapped in a dead state.  And there is nothing you can do to fix it.

What we need is the right man with the right tools for the job, the man with the expertise to take this corrupted world and make it shining and new.  That man is also God.  His name is Jesus.

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is all about restoring the creation that God had made.  Yes, it will be destroyed, at least the sin-saturated version of it that we all know.  But it will also be renewed, rejuvenated, refurbished to be better than new at His second coming.

This began at His incarnation, as God was joined with human flesh and blood in Mary’s womb.  When the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus, God took on our corrupted flesh.  Although He never sinned, He endured the consequences of our evil deeds and desires.

It continued during Christ’s earthly ministry.  As He healed the sick, drove out demons, calmed storms, and raised the dead, Jesus was letting the people of earth know that they would not be abandoned by God to the corruption of their sin.

When Jesus was crucified, as He died upon that tree, He did so to break the corrupting power of sin upon the earth and upon you and me.  When He rose from the dead He put an end to that corruption and decay.  In fact, He completely reversed it.  The resurrection of Christ is God’s solemn promise that He will rejuvenate the entire world, and us along with it.

In the vision of Revelation, John sees a New Heaven and New Earth.  The old corrupted world has been destroyed.  But in its place Jesus Christ has built something even better.  He has refurbished the universe so that it will now run and operate as God intended.

This includes the entire creation.  It includes you and me.  Our bodies will be on that new earth.  And our regenerated souls will inhabit regenerated bodies.  In that new world we will only desire what is good, noble, and true.  We will only do what is good, noble, and true.

Like that broken down, rusted out tractor sitting in the field, we need to be rebuilt.  We just need the right man for the job.  Jesus Christ is the right man.  He has the drive to make us new, His compassionate love for each human creature.  He has the strength, the very power and knowledge of God.  He has the tools, the Word of His mouth, the Sacraments He has left to us.  

Through the continued ministry of Jesus Christ you are being rebuilt, refurbished, and rejuvenated day by day.  Your corruption is being scrapped away and a new godly creature is being brought forth.  

On the Last Day the work will be completed.  As the New Heavens and New Earth appear, completely renovated and overhauled, we too shall be completed.  We shall be as God created us to be, perfect mirror images of His beloved Son.  

His death and resurrection has begun the revitalization of our body and soul.  At His return He will bring it to completion.  We shall be restored forever.  Amen.    

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