Imagine a world where the things that divide us no longer existed. No wars between countries, no obsession with wealth and possessions, no religion. That is a vision of the world John Lennon paints in his song Imagine.
Not everyone agrees with his lyrics. But it’s hard to imagine anyone disagreeing with John’s premise. If the world could live united as one, the world would be a happier place.
But John Lennon’s vision isn’t unique. In fact when he wrote the song he had a prayer book in hand. And of course there are the visions of hope revealed in our readings.
A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH
Thousands of years earlier another John had a similar vision of the world, “what is and what is to take place”. We call it the Book of Revelation.
This John suffered from his evangelistic activity. He wrote Revelations while exiled to a penal colony in the Greek island of Patmos. By this time, Christian persecution reached epidemic proportions. Rome was more dangerous and oppressive than it was during Jesus’ lifetime.
Now much of the book contains moments where even the most faithful fall away. But despite everything, John tells us (Revelation 21:3-4) that the suffering we will go through are birth pangs for a new hope:
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe 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.”
Early Christians understood from Revelations that their pain and suffering will soon pass. But John’s message to the “seven churches of Asia” speaks to this world today.
I love how Isaiah phrases this new hope that John speaks of (Isaiah 25:7-9):
And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
It will be said on that day,…
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
For you today, think about the pain or suffering you or loved one is going through now. We, too, share in the promise given to the early Christians. For us, there will be no more mourning, no crying, no pain, no death.
BRING US WITH ALL YOUR SAINTS
And how did you hear about this hope? Did you—on your own—crack open a bible? Or did you—like most of us—first hear about Christ through an invitation.
For many of us, we learned about God and Christ and other things about faith from a loved one. My mom introduced me to God. Perhaps with you it might’ve been a parent or grandparent, a friend or clergy.
Without these saints in our lives, we would not have what we have in Christ. We would not be where we are in our faith. We would’ve fallen away when times got tough. No one to turn to; life would not be worth living.
So let us honor the saints of our lives, both living and dead. And by their inspiration, let us be like saints to the next generation. Let us continue to share the love and the life that keeps us strong and sane in this often crazy world.
Let us as the saints of God all welcome the new Jerusalem that God has prepared for us. Let us do it with gratitude, charity and patience with one another. Let us all imagine all God’s people living for today…and beyond. Amen.