After washing the disciples’ feet, predicting his betrayal, and then revealing his betrayer, Jesus speaks of his glorification on the cross. This deep complicated love of Jesus, even to death on the cross, will be the distinctive mark of Jesus’ community.
31When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
God gives Peter a new, expanded mission.
Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment.
God gives to us a new heaven, a new earth. And make All things New.
We do love new things. That new car smell. New books. New clothes. New phone. Our love for new things reached a new level; when more and more items became “disposable.” Single use items – Plates and cups, shopping bags, towels. As well as things that just cannot be fixed or parts replaced. Just have to buy a new one!
But creation and creatures are not disposable. When scripture claims all things will be made new – it does not mean that God makes all new things. It is not replacement but renewal; of the beloved creatures, and beloved creation that God has lovingly made and redeemed.
This is renewal. Taking what was compromised and corrupted and cleaning it inside and out. Valuing the broken, despite their flaws, and moving towards wholeness. It does seem like we are in a season of renewal here at Christ Lutheran, and in that spirit, we will renew our baptismal promises each Sunday and renew our relationships with each other through fellowship, service, and worship. We are not scrapping the old liturgy in favor of a better one, but renewing the practice of worship with a new song.
The people of God sing songs in revelation every time you turn the page, lifting their voices with the saints around the throne and all the angels. The words we sing are in fact the same today. Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who was slain, whose blood set us free to be people of God. Power, riches, wisdom, and strength, and honor, blessing, and glory are his. This is the feast of vict’ry for our God, for the Lamb who was slain has begun his reign. Alleluia.
Straight out of chapter 5.
We yearn to be there, to finally get to heaven with God and take our place around the throne; free from the suffering here and now, to get out of this mess that we’ve made, and to be free from the pain and the grief. But The book of Revelation ends in renewal, not escape. The faithful who end up with Christ – have been with Christ all along. Beginning to end. Alpha to Omega. The end is not a battle – the end is a person. God revealed in Jesus Christ.
This book is often interpreted as some sort of divine play book for the end times – when taken on its own, is a highly stylized story of God’s faithfulness to his people, and a caution to trust in that rather than the wealth and stability of Rome. These earthly kingdoms we build for ourselves are fleeting, and pass away, but God’s kingdom remains, because the easter promise is not just renewal but resurrection. Even death cannot stop God’s plan to renew and redeem, and as far away as the scene described in the book of Revelation seems to us, we are shown glimpses of it here and now.
Still firmly within the season of Easter, we continue to celebrate new life. God is faithful, and we are not abandoned, but are given new life even in death. But it is not only our lives that have been made new and renewed, but the whole church – the community of the baptized. And in that Christian community, we receive a glimpse of the new world that is promised, where God dwells with us. It’s not for nothing that the Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city – we were made to live with each other in community.
And the resurrection and renewal begin in baptism. The sacrament of baptism is God’s gift of new life. To be sure, it is a new life realized over time, as we grow in faith and trust in God’s faithfulness. It is during this time of growth that we get more glimpses of this new life. Each time we gather for communion it is a glimpse of the kingdom of the saints gathered around the throne. Connected through time and space to all those God has named as children.
We also receive a glimpse of our future when we live out Jesus’ command to love one another. This love is not a feeling or a romantic inclination, but a view of life that cherishes all as neighbors and children of the same heavenly father. This love can be taught, and these are the values we try to instill in our children.
Alex and Alyssa, your daughter Zealand will be baptized here today, and you will make promises. And I say this as a parent who has stood in front of the church and made those same promises….. We will fail at our promises. There are things we wished we could do differently, and times we just don’t have the energy or support to fulfill them. But the good news, the greatest news about baptism, is that it does not depend on our promises. It depends on God’s promises. We trust in the promises of a God who has remained faithful to his people and kept them promises, even when it looks like all hope is gone. Even through death. May the spirit empower and encourage us to trust and to love as we have been loved.