“I saw a new heaven and a new earth,” John says in his Revelation. “I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…”
And God responds, “See, I am making all things new.”
On mornings like today, I don’t see things being made new. I see the same old headlines…
War. Contentious elections. Economic uncertainty. Hostage situations in our own neighborhoods.
God, isn’t that enough?
And then there was another mass shooting yesterday that left 10 dead.
If you know my story, you know how much I hate preaching after mass shootings.
God I pray that I don’t ever have to preach after a mass shooting again.
These things aren’t just happening out there. They’re personal, too.
Many of us…probably all of us if we’re honest…are facing uncertainty and struggle and chaos in our own lives.
And too often this uncertainty and struggle and chaos makes it difficult to see and know and trust that all things are being made new.
I think it’s fitting that our gospel takes us back to another dark night; a last supper, a betrayal, a departure, an impending death.
Another night of uncertainty and struggle and chaos.
It’s the night before Jesus’ crucifixion. He fed his disciples and washed their feet. Judas has gone out into the night.
Jesus tells his disciples that he’s leaving and that they can’t go with him. Peter and Thomas ask what everyone is thinking: “Why not?” “Where are you going?” “How will we find our way?”
They no doubt feel uncertainty and struggle and chaos.
The disciples will have to learn to see and know and trust that even in the midst of terror and tragedy…even in the midst of chaos and pain…even in the midst of death and sorrow, that all things are being made new.
So must we.
We must see and know and trust that God ‘s love makes all things new in the midst of, not apart from, the uncertainty and struggle and chaos of our lives.
And we must see and know and trust that God will help us do the same.
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
God’s love for us should shape our love for each other. And our love for each other should reveal Christ to the world, even…perhaps especially…in the midst of uncertainty and struggle and chaos.
Love reveals the new heaven and new earth.
Love allows us to see and know and trust that all things are being made new.
This is the part of the sermon that I had written before yesterday, where I was going to say that you and I, as Jesus’ disciples, continue that work through our love for one another.
I was going to say that sharing God’s love can start in easy ways.
Like showing up to help corral someone else’s kids at Vacation Bible School.
Like cooking and delivering a meal to a parishioner or neighbor.
Like packing a meal for someone experiencing homelessness.
Like dropping off lunch for a friend who is stuck at the car repair shop.
That’s all true. But that’s all too easy.
So I had to think harder last night about what I needed to say today.
On days like today, love feels hard.
Because love is hard.
When Jesus told his disciples to love one another, they heard in their hearts his command to love their enemies, to pray for those who persecuted them.
Love is hard. Freaking. Work.
At this point I know I’m going to make some of y’all uncomfortable. Maybe even mad. But don’t worry, because I’m talking to everyone.
Most especially myself.
Because we’re called to love everyone.
The protestor and the politician.
The Supreme Court justice and the woman facing an unimaginable decision and the life growing inside.
The ICE agent and the person at the border.
The billionaire CEO and the labor organizer.
Jack Iker and Scott Mayer.
The families of the victims and the shooter.
We’re called to love all of them.
Because we’re called to love everyone.
Our trashing, demeaning, humiliating, and labeling of others is horrifying and grieves God.
And it leads to blood on the streets.
Our interactions with other human beings must always be done with love and humility and dignity, because in every interaction we encounter another person made in the image of God.
Every time we treat someone with dignity rather than shame…
Respect rather than disregard…
Concern rather than contempt…
Kindness rather than brutality…
Careful attention rather than turning away…
In each of those moments we are helping the world to see and know and trust that God loves everyone.
In each of those moments we are helping the world to see and know and trust that God’s love is making all things new.
God redeems and restores and renews the whole world, through love.
And the world will know that we are his disciples, not by the right opinions or positions or allegiances. The world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples by our love.
We as Christians don’t stand on issues.
We walk with people, in love.
And God loves everyone.
And even me.