God is Creating with his Infinite Possibilities 13-11-2022

13th November 2022 (Pentecost 23 & Remembrance Day) 

Title: God is creating with His infinite possibilities

(Scripture Readings: Isaiah 65:17–25 & Luke 21:5–9)

                                                                                     By Heeyoung Lim 

Today’s text invites us toward the Reign of Christ and Advent when we prepare to welcome the Messiah who came to us to embody God’s creating work and saving love and the infinite possibilities of “new heavens and new earth”. As we move toward the end of the church year, we long a renewed world healed by God’s love and justice for all people and all Creation.

Most scholars believe Isaiah 65:17–25 was written after the people of Judah returned from exile in Babylon. Their return was not as triumphant as they had hoped. Their homeland was destroyed and had to be rebuilt with so many risks. The prophet speaks to those facing the task of rebuilding Jerusalem. He speaks God’s word of hope that God will not remember Israel’s disobedience. The word remember in scripture means bringing a past event into the present with all costs. Just as God will not bring past transgressions into the present, the people are called to leave behind the fear and anguish of exile and embrace God’s infinite possibilities of “new heavens and a new earth” (v. 17). 

As in verse 18, God is creating “new heavens and a new earth.” May we be glad and rejoice forever in what God is creating. The new creation would differ greatly from the old one, being dominated by joy instead of sadness. The joy would be shared by God and by people. In God’s new creation, sadness will vanish, and weeping will be replaced by joy and peace. God’s people are participants in this new Creation.

This new Creation is described as a place where God’s people will live and enjoy meaningful lives in a close relationship with God. These messages reverse situations of human distress and difficulties and speak a word of God’s ultimate Justice and infinite love to all who have suffered. God’s living words influence our daily lives, and His people participate in this new Creation. The work of creation involves human participation now and in the future. Each of God’s faithful people would enjoy the works of their hands.

Even though Isaiah 11:18 declares that on God’s “holy mountain” the serpent and humankind will live in harmony, here the prophet suggests that God is limiting His creature from the beginning of this new Creation. In Genesis 3:14, the serpent is “cursed” for its part in the disobedience of Adam and Eve, but in this region of the Middle East, serpents were symbols of wisdom and fertility. What signs do we observe of “new heavens and new earth” in our lives?  What does it mean to live into this vision and help shape it? 

In today’s text, labour would be rewarded, every newborn would escape the sudden disaster, and curses would disappear. Every generation would be blessed by God. God’s people find joy in signs of God’s new creation. May we find joy as a new creation in Christ. 

In the time of Jesus, the Jews praised the beauty and wonder of their temple. They depended on fortresses for protection, or they were interested in beautiful architecture. Herod had built and decorated the temple with a huge amount of white marble stones and silver and gold gates and doors.

However, Jesus said, “The time is coming when not one of them will be left in place. He repeated his warning that the temple would be completely destroyed, and Jesus’ followers asked when this would happen. They wanted to know what signs would warn them. 

Jesus was not the only one who promised signs for the future. In those times, many teachers insisted on having more knowledge than Jesus did, and false messiahs wanted people to follow them as God’s Messiah. Deceivers will always try to gain glory and power by pointing to false signs of the last times.

Jesus who called people to “follow me” but now says, “Do not follow them.” The one we should follow is Jesus. In the following words, there are many signs Jesus mentioned, and they take place before Christ returns. Every generation has its wars or signs, but those are not the end, and they take place before the end comes. Christ has given us the signs so that we can pray and get ready for His second coming and the kingdom of God. In verse 18 and 19, Jesus promised that we will be saved by faith, and we will win life if we stand firm. May we lean on Jesus in all circumstances rather than depending on worldly values for protection from the sinful world.

Christ will return in glory, and he expects His people to be ready for His return. May we pray that God will give us strength and protection in the fears, uncertainty, and chaos we are experiencing. We do not know when Christ will come again, but signs of the times will help us realize the end is near so we can prepare for Jesus’ return. May we be alert to what is happening and be prepared to stand firm as a faithful and true follower. I believe that God gives us strength and protection for our daily lives and the last days. 

Luke 21:5–19 offers a vision, with enough trouble, loss, and sadness to make the strongest person shake with fear. When the gospel of Luke was written, the temple and Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Romans. God, loving and mighty creator, speaks His word into our weary world and makes all things new. May we live in the harmony God makes and leads. We are called to live out the gospel in this renewed world of God’s justice and peace. Jesus’ word is true and can be trusted for now and eternity. 

Luke mentions the fears, uncertainty, and chaos people are experiencing firsthand. Yet in the gospel, they hear Jesus’ words that even when all looks lost, they can trust in the creative presence of God. He will put a word on their lips, a song in their hearts, with the wisdom and strength they need for the most difficult of times. Even when it appears all is lost, God calls us to participate in the healing promise of God. One day God’s praying people will see a new heaven and a new earth, paradise restored, with no more violence, no more injustice, and peace and joy for all. I believe that we are also to “be glad and rejoice forever in what God is creating” 

Today’s text provides an opportunity for worshippers to rejoice in God’s promises, express gratitude for God’s blessings, review experiences of God’s assistance in times past, and commit their trust to God for the future. I believe that worship that promotes joyful experiences through fellowship, music, prayer, teaching, and proclamation will offer and deepen a spiritual foundation.

In Christ, may we stan firm in all circumstances. 

A Prayer for People of Courage

We offer to you, O God, our prayers for those who seek justice and resist evil. We pray for those who need your presence and strength to stand firm; for those who are oppose the use of violence in any form in faithful response to the Prince of Peace. We pray for those are prepared to be firm to protect those in danger. We pray for those who walk with others who need strength. We pray for those who protest, those who organize letter campaigns, those who give sacrificially on behalf of others. 

We pray for those who speak the unpopular truth; who protect the unpopular victims; who choose the unpopular path of peace.

We pray for those who do not let their desire for peace hinder the requirements of justice, and for those who do not let their zeal for justice override the call for peace.

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)