Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | October 10, 2011

Sermon on Revelation 21:1-5 (Christian Memorial for Art Kracke)

I am making everything new.  Now there’s some pie in the sky if I ever heard it.  You know that you can’t turn back time.  On eBay or Amazon you peruse items that are in good, acceptable, and very good condition.  Some, a choice few, list as “like new.”

But like new isn’t new.  You can’t unring the bell.  You can’t rewrap the CD or unread the book.  It may be like new.  It may be virtually new.  It might be “as good as new,” but it’s not new.  And it never will be again.

Human bodies work the same way.  We can replace knees, hips, livers, kidneys, and even hearts.  We can get someone from grave or critical condition back to good, acceptable, very good, or even like new.  But it’s not new.  And it never will be.  Those organs rarely last as long as the originals did.  Those people, whose lives transplants saved, still die.

We can pop pills, tuck tummies, staple stomachs, work out feverishly, and tweak our diet according to the latest medical pronouncement, and still we don’t get back to new.  Maybe we’re good, or acceptable, or very good.  A choice few end up like new.  But nothing gets you back to new.

Because we live in a world of tears.  We live in a world of death and mourning, of crying and pain.  We live in a world where this is the order of things.  New becomes old becomes dead.  As unexpectedly as death comes, we still expect it and nothing else.

Because we live under a curse.  That’s what Jesus revealed to John.  As John looked at the river of the water of life in heaven, he wrote, No longer will there be any curse.

That’s new.  We live in old.  Death, mourning, crying, pain.  We’re doing it today, as we think about our friend, father, grandfather, Art.  He suffered.  He died.  We mourn and cry.  Because from that terrible moment when Eve and Adam decided that they knew better than God, death reigned.  Women give birth in pain, and sometimes die.  Men work the ground and it sprouts weeds.  And life doesn’t get much better, because then you die.  We return to the ground from which we came.  And then there’s the eternal punishment of hell.  This isn’t how it was supposed to happen, but we decided we knew better than God.

God calls this the old order in Revelation 21.  The way things used to be.  It’s not this way anymore because He actually made everything new.  Not good.  Not acceptable.  Not very good.  Not like new.  But new.

By dwelling with us.  That’s how the loud voice describes heaven in Revelation:  Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  But He already lived with us.  We celebrate it every Christmas when we sing, Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity!  Pleased as man with us to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel!  Hark!  The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

What if God was one of us, the pop singer asks?  He was.  Jesus Christ dwelt among us.  Jesus Christ took upon Himself the curse of the old order.  He became your sin.  He who lived, died in agony on the cross, forsaken by God, instead of Art and you and me.  He who died, lay in a tomb for three days.  He who was buried, then ended the old order.  He rose.  He prepared the way.  He made everything new.

“But,” you say, “Art still died.”  Yes.  But Jesus says, “Death is sleep.”  He proved it, raising Jairus’ daughter, the woman’s son in Nain, and Lazarus from the dead.  He proved it, when He awoke from the dead and attached a promise to that resurrection, Because I live, you also will live.  The same promise He made to the sisters of Lazarus, I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies.  Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

And so, Art died.  But he’s not dead.  By faith in Christ, he lives.  Like that other Lazarus, he lays in the bosom of Abraham, surrounded by angels and archangels, and he sings praises to the Savior in whose glory he rests.  Art now experiences the trustworthiness of the Lord’s words.  Revelation 21:  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.   And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”   He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 

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