The pages of the calendar say it’s a new year. The old has passed away and the new has come. The bearded and bent man has shuffled off the stage, replaced by the infant of expectation. And what has come with this change? What is different?
We’re still talking about violence in Syria, fear of ISIS, and outlandish statements made by politicians. There are still hungry folks in the world. Trouble still stalks the night, claiming victims of the street, victims in their homes. Emergencies still interrupt and we are often caught by surprise.Yet, we of faith speak of new life in Jesus Christ? What’s so new about this life? When will it be among us and how will we know it? These are important questions for us in times of trouble, when fear stalks, when we ponder what is going on in our world.
The vision of faith given us by John describes a new reality that is coming, a new heaven and earth that will replace the broken creation within which we live. When this new world comes, death will be no more, tears will stop flowing, mourning will be turned to joy, and pain will be finally and fully comforted. The voice of God will call out to us in our hiding places. God will say, “Look! I’m making all things new!” And we’ll look around and see that the enemies stalking us have been transformed. Death, pain, suffering, and fear will come to an end. (Revelation 21)
The change of a calendar does not have the power to do this. No politician we elect will bring this kind of peace. No government is capable of fixing this messed up world. If we pin our hopes on a candidate, we will be disappointed. Our help comes from the Lord, the maker heaven and earth. No other has the power to enter into the suffering of this world and transform it into everlasting peace and new life.
New life comes only through God in Jesus. We hold out hope that God will make all things new. We point to the resurrection and declare that God’s work in the grave is a sign of God’s deep commitment to breaking every power that destroys life. We do not know when or how this new life will fully become a reality among us. Rather, we trust that God’s new life is coming among us. It is already among us, but not, yet, fully in place.
Here’s how we recognize God’s new life in the world. We know God’s life wherever we see healing coming to places of brokenness. We see God’s new life emerge wherever people are being raised out of poverty, in places where the hungry are being fed, in healing places that bring hope, in forums were peace breaks down walls of division. Wherever the destructive powers of death and self-centered, sinfulness are turned, the power of God’s new life is found.
God’s vision for this world is that it would be restored. To this end, God has called us, the Church, to action. We are to be God’s hands and feet working as the body of Christ in the world, bringing the new life of Jesus to places where death and destruction are still at work: In our lives, in the church, in our communities and in the world.
When we are the church, living and enacting God’s mission of new life through Jesus, people will look and see that God is making all things new. People will be energized by the impact we make in the world. They will see that we, when acting in the name of Jesus, bring healing, peace, and love. When we are the church at its best, we are a place of new life in a world still gripped by death and destruction.