Sermon Script: Revelation 21:1-8
Sermon Purpose: Hope for loved ones and hope for those born into this world
Sermon Title: God Wins!
My sisters and brothers Fall has come. In ancient Ireland at this is the time of year the shepherds and farmers would bring the cattle into the barns to protect them from the long dark English winter. It was a time of superstition and celebration. A time when the Celts believed spirits would return from the dead and either kill crops with frost, or try to take possession of human bodies. To ward off the spirits the Celts lit huge bon fires, and dressed in costumes, and danced and celebrated the start of the new year on November 1st. When the Romans conquered Ireland they merged a celebration for those who had died the previous year with the Celtic festival of Samhaim creating all Saints day. On May 13, 609 the Catholic Pope Boniface IV created a feast to all those who had been martyred for the faith. However, it was Pope Gregory III (734-741) who moved the festival to Nov 1st and created All Saints Day to remember both the martyrs and the saints. The night before All Saints Day was All Hallows Eve, or what we call Halloween.
The reason I am offering you this brief history lesson is to help us all better understand a simple truth. Life is not always easy. Sometimes life is very hard. The winter is coming. Many of us on a deep level are afraid of the dark, and winter brings a darkness with it. The warm summer sun has gone and allowed darkness to come in. With darkness comes fear, anxiety and depression. As the holidays come around many begin to think of their loved ones who have died. Many become swept up in holiday celebrations and the gift buying for their children. We think about this one’s last Thanksgiving, and that one’s first Christmas. For some there is fear, and for others there is mourning. Into the looming darkness God sends this message. The darkness will not last forever. We do not need to be conquered by our fears. Those who mourn will be comforted (Matt 5:4). Those who are poor in spirit shall receive the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 5:3). Fear will not reign forever. Hear this good news. God Wins! Amen? Amen. Amen?! Amen!!
John’s Revelation was written specifically to those who knew what it was to suffer for their faith. Revelation is a book for the martyrs and the saints – those who are about to die for the faith and those who gain from the example of the martyrs. The message is plain. This present pain and sadness will not last. Mourning will not go on forever. Fear will not continue to hold sway over our lives. God will conquer the darkness. Indeed God has been working to restore creation to her proper place ever since we broke creation in the Garden of Eden. Hear this very carefully.
In Eden Adam and Eve represented all of Humanity. There in the Garden of Eden God created Adam from the dust of creation, and Adam’s wife Eve from Adam’s side. Eve was tempted by a serpent to eat fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve ate from that tree and offered the fruit to Adam. Adam also ate from that tree, and when he did Humanity and creation fell out of relationship with God. We broke our relationship with God and we also broke creation’s relationship with God because we were created from creation. However, in the midst of our punishment God promised we would not always be fooled by temptation. Sometimes the serpent would bruise our heel, and sometimes we will crush temptation’s head (Gen 3:15). This is the Adamic Covenant.
Many years later there was a man named Noah. Our brokenness has grown worse and worse, and the world needed to be washed clean of the mess we created. God found one man who was in right relationship with God, and his name was Noah. God commanded Noah to build a boat and to save two of each of the animals of the earth. Noah was faithful to what God commanded and God washed the earth clean in a giant flood. Afterward God made a deal with Humanity through Noah that God would never destroy the world by flood again (Gen 6-9). This is the Noaic Covenant.
Many years followed and God chose a man named Abram which means father. To Abram God said, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:1-3). As Abram grew to trust God more and more God changed Abram’s name from, “father,” to, “father of a multitude;” Abraham (Gen 17:5). God has been faithful to God’s covenant with Abraham and now Abraham’s children are very numerous and known today as the Jews. Thus we have the Abrahamic Covenant.
Out of Abraham’s line came a boy. God worked through this boy and made him king over all of Israel. As a man king David thought to establish his kingdom by building a temple to the Lord as other countries had done. But what does the God of EVERYTHING need with a temple? God doesn’t need a temple. Instead God made a covenant promise to David. God promised David God would make a house for David. This house would always have an heir, and God would establish this everlasting kingdom (2Sam 7:4-17). We call this the Davidic covenant.
And from David’s line came Jesus Christ, the son of God and the King above all kings – God in the flesh, living among us. The closest Humanity has ever come to God living among us was when God walked with humanity in the cool of the day back before the Fall. And now we have been blessed by God’s own son, Jesus Christ. Christ was born like one of us; grew up like one of us; learned a job like one of us; and worked like one of us. Around 30 years old Jesus began the work for which He was sent into this world. Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). Then on the night before He gave Himself up for us Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples. Jesus took bread from the table, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to His disciples saying, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:26-28). This is the fifth covenant God has made showing us God is working to restore Humanity and creation.
Now, we are not there yet. We still have a long way to go. But looking over these covenants each one is about a faithful relationship with God. We have to do our part to be faithful in that relationship. We have to be willing to learn what is in the Bible for ourselves and not just what the preacher says on Sunday morning. We have to be willing to go to God in prayer daily. We have to be willing to choose God more often than we choose ourselves. And through God’s grace we can, and we will. How do I know we will? I know God will complete God’s work because in the end God wins.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 12:1-4)
Please take hope in this message. For those of you who are mourning the loss of a loved one know that God loves you. God loves your loved one, and they are in God’s tender care until all of this world has passed away. For those of you celebrating a first Christmas and first Easter please believe me when I say that while this world is not always easy or safe God is still working to make it right. However, each of us has a choice to make. We must choose to turn away from sexual immorality, envy, fits of anger, bitterness and strife because all things like these are of the flesh. Instead we must walk in the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and faithfulness. God will win. Part of God’s victory comes through us. We have to get out there and do our part. If we are eager to see lost loved ones we must work to choose God more often than ourselves. We must seek to do no harm; to do good; and to stay in love with God. To stay in love with God we must participate in the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion. At God’s Table we break bread with all of the saints; past, present and future – with those who have died, with our brothers and sisters alive today, and with those who will come after us. Through Holy Communion God gives us the strength to God on. Let’s prepare for the work and come to God’s table with eagerness.
In the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.