#New is the Podcast for May 1, 2016. What exactly does Revelation say is going to happen at the end? Are we just spirits passing through to a mystical existence with God? What are the implications to our lives. Listen here in this reflection: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #Revelation #Resurrection #EndTimes #Yellowstone #Geyser
New: A Reflection on Rev. 21 & 22
For Full Podcast Text, Open Here
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 5/1/2016 The 6th Sunday of Easter.
Please pause this audio and read the Book of Revelation 21:1-22:6.
My favorite vacation ever was the trip we took to the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. Somewhere along the way on that trip, we stopped by Yellowstone National Park and took a look at the formation of geysers there. Geysers form when ground water goes around 6,000 feet beneath the surface and comes in contact with hot rock formed by magma. Geysers are, therefore, usually formed around volcanoes. They are rare. The hot rock causes the water to be turned into pressurized steam. Like the boiling water in a tea kettle that shoots out the spout, the water in the geyser shoots out of holes in the ground.
The geyser Old Faithful gets its name because it spouts water on regular intervals. The word geyser is Icelandic for “spout.” I have two pictures of geysers at Yellowstone that I took posted with this audio at MySpiritualAdvisor.com. One is of a geyser that has a redish orange ring in it. The second is of a geyser with the ring that shows a clear as a bell greyish rock beneath the water. I cannot remember if it was a guide or literature that told us that the natural geyser is the one that does not have the reddish ring. The reddish ring in the geyser is formed in the water when someone throws a piece of trash into it.
Seriously. I blurted out loud, “people actually throw trash into geysers at the National Park?!?” “Hody-hum, I have this can left over from my soda, what should I do with it? Oh, hey, here is a millennium old, rare rock formation. I’ll just throw it in there!” The litter is not removed because to do so causes more damage to geyser than leaving it alone. All I can say is, look at how God has made the polluting of a human being into something lovely.
The reason that I get so offended by littering or by behavior that is dismissive of the earth is because of our beliefs as Christians that arise out of these last two chapters of Revelation. This part of the visions of Revelation is of the New Heaven and New Earth. I have to pause right there because there is a glitch in the translation because of idiom. The Oxford Annotated Bible and the Jerusalem Study Bible pick up this problem in their footnotes.
You see, there are two words for “new” in the common Greek in which the New Testament is written. The first word means new in origin, birth. Idiomatically, we would say in English, “brand spanking new.” The second word gives a different connotation, “new in nature, different from usual, impressive, better than the old, superior in value or attraction.” (Kittel, III:447). It is the same meaning when we tell a woman who has just gotten her hair done, “Oh, that is a new look! I like it!” The second word for “new” gives the connotation that things have been renewed and given a new and distinctive quality, not that something entirely new is being created. The second word for “new” is what is given here in the 21st Chapter of Revelation. This idea is confirmed with the fact that the “sea is no more”, as if it once existed.
Why am I making a big deal out of this? It is because the Greek version shows that this is not a totally new heaven and new earth. It is “renewed” heaven and a “renewed” earth. It is the earth that you and I are standing on. It is the earth that you and I, when we were with God in the Garden of Eden, were given charge to care for the earth like the Lord would. It is the real estate that we will occupy when we are raised from the dead in our bodies at the Great Resurrection. These bodies in which we now live and move and have our being. Not only will we be renewed, the Earth will be renewed.
The Father in heaven will be among us and we won’t have to go to church anymore. (I hear a million teenage hearts jump for joy.) We won’t have to because the Father will be our Temple in the midst of us. All of us who are in relationship with him, who respect him, love him, we will be with him in this renewed place. We are not just passing through. This place is not going to be destoyed and improved version is going to replace it. The Earth will be like Jesus after his Resurrection.
If you recall, when the Lord appeared to Thomas and to the Ten, he appeared in their presence and then asked him to touch his hands and side. When he appeared on the beach to the Eleven, he ate fish with them. It is what St. Paul calls a “spiritual body.” It is a renewed body made of the same stuff as the old body, but without corruption and with new qualities that defy physics. What is missing from the Lord’s body is death, pain, sorrow, and corruption of the flesh. By defeating death, he defeated the last tool of disrespect that a tyrant earthly king could level at the God of the Universe.
Earth will be the same. It will be a resurrected earth. It will be like the geyser with the red ring being transformed into the geyser that is pristine, and even better. How is this so? It is so because the Resurrection of Jesus was the first renewal of things dead and damaged by us. His Resurrection, which we celebrate throughout Easter, has unleashed a renewal that is taking place in us from the point of Jesus waking in the tomb until this vision we see in Revelation 21 and 22 becomes reality.
It is Jesus’ words in John that give us a guide of what we are supposed to do until then. We are supposed to “keep his word.” Our lord is the Lord of lords. Our king is the King of kings. We are to lived this renewed presence through faith every day. I will NOT take vengeance upon my brother or sister, because in the Renewed Heaven and Renewed Earth we will live without vengeance. I will NOT act out sexually to treat my body like an insatiable beast, or my brother or sister’s body like an object because in the Renewed Heaven and Renewed Earth we will not live sex as a weapon, but love as a way of life. I will NOT lie or steal or cheat because in the Renewed Heaven and Renewed Earth we will not have to worry about “getting ahead” and be concerned for our security. Most of all, I will not live the way the world lives, trusting in progress, trusting in philosophies, because I have been born into Jesus Christ through baptism and I am already raised from the dead in this life until he comes and brings the next.
This means that as Christians, we do not throw trash in geysers. Defacing our home, our future home, and the amazing creation of God violates our constitution. Yes, something as little as littering becomes an act of love to the one who is the Lover of our souls. I do not fret over it because I might be punished for it. I think about it because I am in love with the one who loved me enough to invite me to live a renewed existence. Because I am in love, I keep his word.
The renewed existence is not just then, when he comes again and our bodies are raised, and our souls leave paradise to be reunited with the renewed body in which we struggle to live now. The renewed existence of all Christians is in us now, in how we order our lives, treat our bodies, react to the world around us, and as we participate in this renewal through acts of social justice and kindness toward others. By our acts of kindness and generosity, by our prioritization of a Resurrected life, we get the world ready for its final renewal and lead the world to its final, glorious beginning. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2016.
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian