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, the 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, “See, the home of God is among mortals. God will dwell with them; they will be God’s peoples, and God, yes God, will be with them; God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also the one said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then the one said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 21: 1-6)
I have officiated and attended many Services of Death and Resurrection over the course of my lifetime, as many of you have as well. The scripture text from Revelation has been read at almost everyone one of them. These verses have become foundational for our Christian understanding of death, dying and resurrection.
These words from Revelation have stirred in my soul a comprehension of true and utter belonging. God is offering a place for me/us to dwell. A love that is so intimate that tears are wiped away, loneliness ceases, and a complete communion with another. A creation of new beginnings in which our pain and suffering are no more. A trust that ensures us an existence with the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end.
The words from Revelation remain just words unless I/we understand the implications for us in living our lives today and tomorrow. How do we live our lives, naming and claiming that we belong to God? How do we live into and through the promises of God?
While the answers to these questions are both communal and individualistic, there is a call to go deeper and wider in our faith. As we delve into our faith exploration, I pray that the words of the hymn, “When we are Living” (#356, verses 2 and 3) inspires you,
“Through all our living, we our fruits must give.
Good works of service are for offering.
When we are giving or when receiving,
we belong to God; we belong to God.
‘Mid times of sorrow or in times of pain,
when sensing beauty or in love’s embrace,
whether we suffer or sing rejoicing,
we belong to God; we belong to God.”
Clergy Assistant to Bishop Hee-Soo Jung