Morgan Freeman’s thought-provoking Story of God show on the National Geographic Channel two Sundays ago contained a survey of what many world religions have to say about “the end of time.” Much of the show was devoted to the notion of “Apocalypse” as a product of American popular culture. In movies, video games, and even the news, apocalypse is a dystopian worldview…an idea that the fate of the world will ultimately be determined by overzealous robots, the effects of global warming, or an angry and vindictive God. But it was nice to see Freeman contrast this popular notion of apocalypse with apocalypsis or the “lifting of the veil” that we find throughout the book of Revelation in the Christian Scriptures. At the end of the program, Freeman traveled to the Carrollton Avenue Church of Christ in New Orleans where he spoke to Angela and Charles Marsalis, survivors of the 2005 hurricane that hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Some residents of New Orleans believed at the time that the hurricane was “the end of the world.” But others who sought refuge at the church said that in the midst of the hurricane, they found hope. Not only did the Scriptures promise that God would be with them through this tragedy. When it was over, Charles and Angela said they saw how this “end of the world” experience actually allowed the God who makes all things new to give them a new church and new ministry opportunities to the people of their community.
Revelation does give us a picture of the End. It does reveal God’s wrath and judgement…the ultimate Justice that will win the day as evil is overcome, once and for all. But it also depicts the end of pain and suffering…the end of loneliness and grief and all that our text today calls “the former things.” More importantly, it shows how these things are already giving way to the new creation of those who are found in the resurrected Christ. Such people of faith don’t just await the day they go to heaven. Heaven is coming down to them. The God who makes all things new (Rev. 21:5) puts them to work right now. He draws them together in cities of His dwelling (New Orleans, Lexington Park, Leonardtown, you name it). And it is in these places that, forgiven sinners that they are, they are given to achieve new and unexpected things that not even apocalypse can prevent from happening.
"So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. Everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Cor 5:17, NRSV)." The vicious cycle of life and death has been broken. What new change will you put into action today, as a result?