In the space between the old and new we are called to embrace this way of life today, living it out as if heaven and earth are already one.
This is always good for us to remember because as you know, when Jesus was born the world was not all that perfect. Like today, there were wars, insurrections, deadly plagues, natural disasters, and all the other stuff that upsets and disrupts people’s lives.
Back then, it was common for people to believe that when bad things happened it meant God was punishing them, or worse, that God abandoned them as if God would just throw in the towel and leave us to pick up the pieces.
Christ is our proof that God never abandons us. But comes to us in both good and bad times.
In her Life Mastery course Mary Morrissey said, “Everything is created twice.” That is, everything was first a thought before it became a thing.
The lightbulb was first an idea before Edison produced the actual product. The seat you’re sitting on, the camera I am looking through, Facebook and YouTube...everything was first a thought before it could become a thing. Including us.
A student of biology knows that long after we’re pronounced dead our bodies take on new life through decomposition. In that process we become something new.
So maybe this moment we’re in is not yet the thing God has in store for us. Maybe we’re in that space between the old and new a place where God is fully and faithfully hard at work transforming and redeeming the world as we know it.
This passage has always been one that has given me strength to endure whatever hardship I am facing in the present moment, because I know whatever I’m going through today is not what will always be. Everything is created twice.
In the 7th century St. John Damascus said, "I do not worship matter, I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. I will not cease from honoring that matter which works for my salvation. I venerate it, though not as God."
Here Damascus speaks of the Christ who took on human flesh, who lived and died like all of us, and yet transcended the grave to create new life.
You see, death was not God’s idea for us. Life was. And the life it produces through Christ is resurrection Life.
It is in this promise that we find our hope, our joy, and our reason to love one another – even in hard times – knowing that what we do here leads us to what is to come.
When the world shuts down, or when our communities are at war, when we are so far away from doing what God calls us to do it’s easy to feel hopeless and abandoned. But scripture assures us that no matter how far we stray, we are never beyond the boundaries of God’s love. It’s bigger than us, and it’s bigger than our problems.
This text tells me that God is not only present in our pain and suffering, but is always looking ahead when pain and suffering will no longer exist. God uses every situation in our life to move us towards a new heaven and a new earth.
So you see, Anamesa is not just a space we occupy. It’s a place where we move closer and closer to God while being transformed along the way. Everything is created twice. Created and recreated, always changing, always transforming the old into the new.
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In this new heaven and this new earth the things we’ve done will no longer be remembered and no longer come to mind. Our past will not define us or weigh us down or limit our possibilities or stop us from receiving the fullness of God’s love. All the dumb and shameful things we did in our youth God won’t remember them! And neither will we.
In this new heaven and this new earth there will be no crying or weeping or suffering. There will be no more miscarriages, stillbirths, or parents dying when their children are still toddlers. The things that break our hearts will no longer exist. We can love faithfully without the fear of rejection or having to let them go.
In this new heaven and this new earth… we will all live together in everlasting harmony. There’ll be no more bullying, no more meanness, no more petty jealousy or personal attacks on each other’s character. No more war, poverty, injustice, captivity, hoarding resources or holding back care. As it is written, “The wolf and the lamb will feed together. They will neither harm nor destroy.”
In this new heaven and this new earth… you will enjoy the fruits of your labor. You will you still have to go to work but nothing you do will be done in vain. Our co-workers will be kind and our boss will be generous as we work for the good of all creation.
So here’s the thing to remember: In the space between the old and new we are called to embrace this way of life today, living it out as if heaven and earth are already one. We must keep our hearts open and our eyes fixed on God, who through Christ Jesus is transforming the world around us for the better.
So, when your job is lacking, your relationships are fading, or your health is diminishing, there is hope because God is at work making something new. When a friend hurts you, your spouse betrays you, or someone you love is no longer with you, God is at work making something new.
Everyday God is creating a new space, a new context, a new Jerusalem where we will dwell in God’s perfect shalom.
Wherever God is present, Hope is present. Peace is present. Joy is present. Love is present. These are the Advent candles we will light in the coming weeks ahead.
But for now, we can go out into the world bravely and faithfully knowing what God is up to, and what is to come through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, who came to show us how to begin living that new reality today.
And so, let us enter that space between the old and new loving neighbor as self, striving for just societies and a stable planet. Let us walk humbly in the presence of God; praying without ceasing; trusting in a mighty God from whom all blessings flow.
While we can’t guarantee a new pandemic or more political uncertainty will arise, there is one thing we can always count on. God is still in charge.
This is the hope that takes us through the darkest nights of Advent and leads us to the beauty of Christmas morning. The hope God gave us in the stable is also the hope we find in the Easter tomb.
Everything is created twice – and with God, it’s always for a greater purpose.
Habben, Daniel. “When Lions Eat Straw” on Nov. 15, 2010 (accessed on Nov. 14, 2019).
Bartlett, David L. and Barbara Brown Taylor, eds. Feasting on the Word, Year C. Vol. 2 (Westminster John Knox: 2009) pp.354-359.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”