“Heaven and earth will pass away…” - the words read at the beginning of this New Year in the life of the church!
“A peculiar, odd, hard, wonderful promise” Jesus made to His first followers
and we continue to hear today!
“Peculiar” in that it is “odd” that what Jesus said 2,000 years we now call "the second law of thermodynamics," that an isolated system (our universe) ceases to work over a period of time, that the energy supply of this planet will eventually come to an end, that life as we know it here will cease. (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Secondlawofthermodynamics)
“Heaven and earth will pass away.”
It’s a prospect that is “hard” to hear and not react with despair and dark pessimism that spreads a pall of gloom over everything and everyone, a Chicken Little Life that runs around crying, “The sky is falling, the sky s falling!” or sees in each ISIS attack the first wave of the ultimate battle set to a scenario read into the last book of the Bible, ending heaven and earth as we know them, at a place called Armageddon.
As terrorists and Christians use this “hard” prospect to recruit followers for the great battle that is to come,
they become the tragic proof that neither is listening to the rest of Jesus’ sentence: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
BUT MY WORDS WILL NOT PASS AWAY! – the “wonderful” promise that begins in the Bible’s first chapter of Genesis that tells of God speaking and worlds came into being, galaxies that give an astronomical dimension to the mind that ponders, “What is the Creator’s next “Word,” next act, in the ongoing drama of creation?”
But let’s come back the present drama and see the “wonderful” promise played out in the words of Jesus:
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) See that life finding its full expression in one word: “Love,” and then feel Jesus pulling us into that word with His charge: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
The “wonderful” promise that lives in us so that, as Paul wrote to Christians in Thessalonica:
… you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.
Hear that last line again: just as we abound in love for you. Loving as we are loved.
Ira Byock, who is a professor at Dartmouth Medical School, has learned from being with dying patients and grieving families that there are eleven word each needs to hear: "Please forgive me. I forgive you. I love you. Thank you." He has seen the power in those eleven words which need to be heard now and not wait until the time of death; (Stillspeaking Daily Devotional, by Martin B. Copenhaver, Nov.24, 2015)
Advent is a good time to let Jesus’ Love for us, become our gift to ourselves and to one another.
At the beginning of this New Year in the life of the church, we also hear Jesus saying:
Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place,
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Be alert! Pray for strength to escape buying into “hard” times that have us quaking under the pall of fear,
or turning pending crises of doom into a call to enlist in the Battle of Armageddon.
Instead, stand in the company of the Word made flesh, God-in-Christ, Who clothes us in the strength of God’s undeserved love called “grace.”
In military terms: “the whole armor of God;”
in legal terms: the life of Christ that renders us “not guilty,”
Christ, “the garment of rightness.”
The garment that qualifies us for the blessing Paul first gave to Christians in Thessalonica and in our hearing, to us:
And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
“Dressed in His righteousness alone, we sometimes sing and need to remember; we are clothed in the protective garment of Christ’s life and armed with the power of His love that will save us and others.
Chloris Wendt, wife of Dr. Harry Wendt who has led Bible seminars for us and supplied us with excellent resources, reports:
“We hear from some of our partners of the astonishing turning of Islamic refugees to the Christian faith. They ask, "Why have you not used the sword against us? Why have you welcomed us in loving service?" Consequently, these Islamic refugees, even some imams, are filling churches in Germany and Cairo, Egypt, with the desire to learn more about the Bible's message.”
It is a new mission to provide Arabic translations of Bible courses, prepared with the conviction: “If each refugee is Jesus in disguise, then we will react as He did, even to the untouchables--reaching out first to touch, then to heal a person, transforming them through His healing touch and teachings.” – (from Crossways International Dec. ’15 newsletter) the “wonderful” promise of Jesus that will not pass away!
The words of Christ waiting to penetrate into our whole being at the beginning of this New Year in the life of the church, and bring us to the Advent Table set with Bread and Cup where Jesus becomes the “Word made flesh to dwell among us”(John 1: 14) which, as He promised, “will not pass away.”