The following was written and submitted by Pastor Jane Leechford of West End United Methodist Church.
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. – Isaiah 65:17
Bible scholar and theologian, Walter Brueggemann, says that the task of the church is to always proclaim the vision and vocation of God’s reign. Always. But at the same time always be patient with one another as we fail to live up to that vision and vocation. Always.
We live in a very confusing and, it seems at times, broken world. We live in a world where there is suffering, pain, and sorrow. We live in a world where competing religions and agendas threaten to undo our ability to live together in peace. Things are not as they once were. The world is not simple and it is not innocent. Our young people today know only a world where terrorism and indifference pervade. They have every right to question where history is going.
Jim Wallis, Christian writer and editor, tells the story from some years ago of volunteering in a church homeless shelter around Christmas time. The church basement was decorated with banners and Christmas decorations, “Good news! Christ is born!” “Glory to God in the Highest” and so on. One of the men who lived each day out on the streets looked around the room and asked, “What is the good news anyway?” Jim said there was a long pause; no one knew what to say. Finally someone spoke up from the back of the line, “The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like this.”
To a people habituated to bad news, heartbreaking news, and maybe even what some refer to as fake news, there is the good news that it doesn’t have to be like this. Isaiah says, “God is about to create a new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind… there will be no more infant mortality; instead there will be adequate housing and everyone will have their own gardens and eat from them instead of growing food for someone else… and the wolf and the lamb shall feed together…” (Isaiah 65:17-25). God intends for us and for this world to be better, to do better. God’s future is out there and it’s coming. The good news is that in Jesus Christ the end has already come. Our vocation and vision is to live out “the end” even now.