“Commit to Prayer: The Future” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell
As you prepare for a long weekend don’t forget to mark your calendars for the upcoming ministry gatherings happening at The Park. This Sunday we have a LatinX language lab with Rev. Jeanette and on June 30 we will take our worship to the street and march in the 50th annual NYC Pride Parade. Keep an eye out for details coming soon! We are so grateful for what each of you bring to this vibrant and growing community. See you Sunday at 11am for worship.
This week was hard for so many reasons. Just open up the newspaper and there is a web of injustices linked to each other. From bodily autonomy and socioeconomics, to healthcare and immigration, racism and homophobia. The sins of this world are many and connected. But as a friend of mine reminded me, when we were talking about how to discuss the ills of this world, “there are really great resources in our scriptures.” For me, this week’s scripture is one of those great resources and reminders. A word that tugs at the string of my heart and reminds me that it is connected to something bigger. Let’s read together from Revelation and see if this text might be a resource for you this week.
Then I saw new heavens and a new earth. The former
heavens and the former earth had passed away, and
the sea existed no longer. I also saw a new Jerusalem, the
holy city, coming down out of heaven from God, beautiful
as a bride and groom on their wedding day.
And I heard a loud voice calling from the throne, “Look!
God’s Tabernacle is among humankind! God will live with
them; they will be God’s people, and God will be fully present
among them. The Most High will wipe away every tear
from their eyes. And death, mourning, crying and pain will
be no more, for the old order has fallen.”
5 The One who sat on the throne said, “Look! I’m making
everything new!” and added, “Write this, for what I am
saying is trustworthy and true.”
6 And that One continued, “It is finished. I am the Alpha
and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To those who are
thirsty I will give drink freely from the spring of the water
of life. (Rev 21:1-6)
There is something really helpful in challenging times about a text that in no uncertain terms tells us God is with us, and this text does just that. In times of real heartbreak, times when I feel shredded with sadness and God seems most distant, sometimes the physical scripture itself – the book, the words, the binding, the punctuation, the word “God” – is where I experience God’s immediate and loving presence most. Just reading the word becomes the breath of life that can fill my emptiness.
This scripture reminds us that God is here with us, and not in a peripheral way. The promise of today’s scripture is that our God is fully present with us. Meaning when God seems most distant, it’s not God who has lost touch with the world, but rather we have. We have distanced ourselves from feeling, seeing, hearing, experiencing God in the world, and that’s on us to change.
Friends, God is fully present in each of us and what a gift it is to gather each week and experience God at work in each of us, together. It’s this type of community – a community who prays with God and not at God, a community who seeks justice boldly, a community who loves with wild abandon – that truly can bring about the “new heavens and new earth.” May this time together remind you of the future world we pray each week to come. A future deserving of the fully present God with us and within us.
A quick prayer for your week: God, I am fully present to you as you are fully present to me.