1 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. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
4 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.”
5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
-Revelation 21:1-5, NRSV
“Mama, can we make crowns?” Ellie asked when I got home from church yesterday afternoon. “Remember yesterday you promised?”
She was right. I did promise. Six-year-olds remember everything.
So I grabbed the cardstock and tape, the pencils and markers, the safety scissors and gemstone stickers. I dug out an old toy crown (vestiges of church Christmas pageants past) to use as a pattern. An hour or so later, we were looking very regal.
While I was tracing and cutting and coloring and taping, I found myself humming the tune of the hymn from worship that morning. “Crown him with many crowns…” I hummed, as I made my own crown out of cardstock. “Crown him the Lord of life.”
The words of this hymn are inspired by a somewhat strange and otherworldly passage from Revelation 19 (“His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.” – Rev. 19:12, NIV), but as I hummed, I found myself thinking more of this passage that comes just a couple of chapters later, in which the One “seated on the throne” offers words of presence, comfort, newness, and life.
Words of presence: “See, the home of God is among mortals… and God himself will be with them.”
Words of comfort: “[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Words of newness: “See, I am making all things new.”
Words of life: “Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.
Revelation is a complex and mysterious book. It defies simple interpretations and explanations. Yet I’ll have to save the complexity for another day, because for the moment, I need something simple. Right now, on what feels like the umpteenth week of the neverending season of covid-tide, I need a simple reminder: my God is a God of presence, comfort, newness, and life.
So if you see me wandering around town with a cardstock crown perched on my head, you’ll know why. I’m just trying to remind myself of God’s words of presence, comfort, newness, and life.
Hang onto those words, friends and remember:
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
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