One of the four lectionary scriptures for last Sunday was from the book of Revelation. It is a book that is quoted entirely too often by people whose only experience with the Bible is what they hear on television or read in apocalyptic fiction books or People magazine. As a piece of literature, Revelation is a beautiful work. As a roadmap to predicting our future, it falls tragically short. Sometimes I wish the scholars who created our current cannon had left this one out completely. I suspect the world would be a better place.
Putting my ranting aside, the scripture from last Sunday is one of the best in Revelation:
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. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 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.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”
Notice it doesn’t say, “See, I make all new things.” Instead, it says that God makes all things of life new.
I have been amazed by some of the stories coming out of the Boston bombings. A young ballroom dancer lost her left foot. Dancing makes her come alive. In an interview with the BBC, she said, “Even on the worst day, or if I am having a bad morning, if I can dance for just a few minutes, everything is ok.”
Most people would be devastated. Her life is changed forever. She lost an essential part of herself that, when on a dance floor surrounded by music, makes her soul fly, yet she closes her interview grateful that she still has so much life yet to live. I have no doubt that she will dance again.
I wonder how she might have heard this passage from Revelation. Were I her, I would wish with all my heart that God would make all new things, specifically, a new foot. Instead, we learn that God is in our midst bringing resurrections out of the most crucifying experiences of our lives. God makes a new heaven and a new earth in, through, and around our broken places, redeeming it all for Good.
Most of us have experienced, or will experience, tragedy in our lives. It’s how we learn to dance again that makes the difference.
Come, Holy Spirit, and make all things new. Amen.