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A new world

November 26, 2012

Last Sunday of the Church yearA new world

 

“See, I will create

new heavens and a new earth.

The former things will not be remembered,

nor will they come to mind.

But be glad and rejoice forever

in what I will create,

for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight

and its people a joy.

I will rejoice over Jerusalem

and take delight in my people;

the sound of weeping and of crying

will be heard in it no more[…]

They will not labor in vain,

nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;

for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,

they and their descendants with them.

Before they call I will answer;

while they are still speaking I will hear.

The wolf and the lamb will feed together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox,

and dust will be the serpent’s food.

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,”

says the Lord”.

Isaiah 65:17-19.23-25

 

 

There are three huge gates that lead into the Cathedral of Milan. Over one gate there is an inscription in marble under a beautiful flower bouquet that says, “The things that please are temporary.” Over the second gate, there is a cross with this inscription: “The things that disturb us are temporary.” However, over the central gate, there is a big inscription saying, “Eternal are the important ones.”

 

Today is the last Sunday of the church year. A new church year begins next Sunday with the first Sunday of Advent. One topic for this Sunday is eternity. The word eternal means: having infinite duration, everlasting, existing at all times. Therefore, if it is also something that has no beginning, it means it has already begun. It does not merely exist in the future. It is a fact, it is here now. The question is: what is it that has already begun? We Christians believe that what has begun is the Kingdom of God. And through the coming of Jesus Christ into the world, we have the opportunity to participate, to live in it.

 

 

Many think of eternity as something in the future; something that is beyond our understanding, something that does not exist in the here and now. It is true; it may not be such an interesting topic for many people. There are many people who want to live their life now; especially young people. When there is health and youth, there is will to live and to work and to do things. No time to think about things beyond this life. But when problems come, we want someone or something to help us. Immediately we remember God. When there are health problems or old age comes, we begin to think that our life on earth will end sooner or later. In response to this, there are three different positions people take. Firstly, I do not care. When death comes I will accept it and then maybe I will reincarnate as a cat or a horse, as some religions believe. They have no conscience or care about what’s to come. They are people who believe in nothing and, logically, often don’t believe in God.

The second position is: now I have to prepare myself to meet God, whom I believe in, even though I was not interested in Him for most of my life.

The third position is that of those who continue to live their lives quietly each day, trusting in the providence of God and prepared to meet God, when that happens.

And what about us, which of the three categories do we fall under?

 

For those who believe in God, the Bible tells us that at the end of time, even beyond our own life: “I will create new heavens and a new earth.” God has prepared something special for those who believe in him and long to live a whole life according to His commandments. It is so special and promising that no human words can describe the greatness of this new home that God has prepared for us:

“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create.”

No matter how old you are, even if you’re young, and you’re enjoying this life with your strength and your youth, you may think that you do not need God. Over time, if you really believe, you’ll come to your knees before God for help. And if you’re older and have already started having health problems or weaknesses, surely you are clinging to God. Regardless of how old you are and whether or not you believe in God, there is something very important that we want to announce this Sunday and that is: The world that we see and everything in it, even if you find it nice, has an end. The life that God offers us instead is eternal. It neither has a beginning nor an end. And not only is eternal, but it is wonderful. “For I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.”

Joy and delight are two rare words in today’s reality, or at least in the reality that the media paints for us every day. However, for the Christian, these words begin to be ‘reality’ for us every day, when we begin to believe in him and put our life in God’s hands. And that is the reality of the Christian who is grounded in God’s providence. Somehow that ‘eternal life’ is already beginning to manifest itself in the lives of the people who believe and love God.

 

 

Did you know the amount of life that is left can be calculated? That’s what speculators believe. Insurance agencies, in order to make money and not lose it, have made a calculation using a mathematical formula. It is called the calculus of life expectancy. Do you want to know how long you still have to live? Depending on the country in which you are living, you can do the following calculation: For example, if you live in Canada, the average life expectancy is 80 years. If you are over 80 years then you are living as a gift. If you still are not this age, then you should subtract 80 minus the number of years you are old now. From this result, you should subtract 33%. According to speculators, this is the number of years that you have left to live. However, according to God, it may be more or even less years. But it is most important to note that, at some point, your life on this earth is going to come an end. That’s a fact.

Do you agree with that? I think both atheists and Christians agree with it. The question may now be “how do you want to live in the eternity?” Incarnate in a toad as some religions say? Floating in nothingness as atheists say? Or enjoying an eternal life that is full and blessed, as it says in the reading for today: “I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more”.

 

 

No more suffering, no more pain, no more health problems. No more economic problems. No more worries, no more injustice, no more tears, no more tragedies, no more wars, no more hunger, no more bloodshed, no more envy, no more discrimination, no more hatred, no more death. Only life, hope, joy, opportunities, friendship, faith, trust, endless life, and everything we have worked for, all ours to keep forever.

What kind of life do you want to live beyond these relatively few years of the life that you have left? I am inclined to put all my hope in my Savior. I am inclined to preach that, as my Savior overcame death, was resurrected, is alive and is blessing me now, strengthening me with His Holy Spirit and accompanying me to succeed in this life on earth that can also be beautiful, but above all things, preparing me to live in eternity with him. Heaven? I do not know it, but the word of God, which I have chosen to believe, tells me: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” … “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev 21:4.27).

 

 

I wish for my name to be written in that book. For this, God asks of me faith in His Word and devotion to him. Do not limit yourself to a life of scarcity in all senses, years of sacrifice on this earth, without the possibility to see your life together, forever with God.

 

As soon as you decide to put your trust and your hope in God, the kingdom of God, then the beginnings of that eternal life will begin to manifest in your life. From now on, do you not wish to begin to taste of that which God has provided for you? This morning you can say to God: “Lord, help me to trust you. Help me to feel that you alone are God and the promises of your word were, are and will be true for my life. Help me to receive that certainty today. Through your Son, Jesus Christ, who gave his life so that I can enjoy the life that will never end.” Amen

 

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