I am making everything new

Millions of people across the world will be celebrating the start of 2015 at parties and firework displays. The day itself is arbitrary and derives from the Gregorian calendar which was devised in 1582 but wasn’t adopted in the UK until 1752, 170 years later. The Gregorian calendar is the one most used worldwide, however there are different New Year’s days in the Hindu, Chinese, Coptic, Jewish and Islamic calendars.

For most of us, apart from the date, not much is new in January. Yet the significance of each New Year is something that is embedded deep within our culture. For the first few weeks of the year you may struggle to write 2015 at the end of dates but it quickly becomes second nature. In fact that is true of everything new! We quickly become accustomed to a new job, a new phone, a new car, a new house. In time the novelty wears off, and we become aware of other opportunities for something newer

Often we associate this hankering after something new with materialism, and sadly it can all too easily be a manifestation of that disease. However, I wonder if even deeper down in our beings there may be an innate expectation of one of Jesus’ final promises in the book of Revelation. John has just been given a vision of ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ when Jesus says ‘I am making everything new’. Consider the most wonderful sights you have seen on this present earth – they can be breathtakingly beautiful. Yet a day is coming when even these places will be transformed and renewed beyond our imagination. This new creation will never fade or wear out, and we will never become jaded with what we see through familiarity. Our desire for something new will finally be satisfied.

Why?

Because in this new creation God’s original intention to dwell among us will finally be realised. Paradise is not defined by beautiful surroundings, rather it is defined by the presence of God. The opening chapters of Genesis describe how Paradise was lost in the Garden of Eden. The closing chapters of Revelation show how Paradise will be restored on the New Earth.

As you reflect upon this glorious vision, allow it to give you hope. Hope that will lift your eyes above the brokenness of this present world in a way that trinkets like smartphones, flat screen TVs and new cars never will. Live each moment of today in the light of our glorious eternity.

This blog post featured in the January 2015 edition of Lifelines

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A Place in the Sun

In just a few weeks the schools will break up for the summer holiday. Many families will be packing their bags and heading off to destinations in the UK, Europe and beyond, to chill out and relax. Whether it is a traditional week by the sea, lazing by a villa in the sun, a city break exploring the sights or engaging in more active outdoor pursuits, my guess is that having good weather will be a priority. Like an oasis, holidays offer refreshment and escape from normality. We look forward to escaping the hum drum routine of daily life, the pressures of work and school, even the sorrows and disappointments that accompany life.

For many people their dream home would be located in the kinds of locations that we favour for our summer holidays. The Channel 4 TV show ‘A Place in the Sun’ taps into our desire to live in a warm sunny climate, beautiful surroundings with proximity to the sea. No matter how comfortable our present circumstances may be there seems to be an innate longing for something better.

At the heart of the Christian message lies an expectation that this life is not the best it gets. We look forward with expectancy to the day when heaven and earth will be renewed and we will spend eternity in paradise with Christ. Our eternal home will be a place of such beauty and peace that even the most idyllic holiday destination will seem bland in comparison. After a while, even those living in a dream home find that there are chores to do and sorrows to be experienced, but we will never get bored exploring God’s new creation which will be full of joy and free from sorrow.

The Christian message also tells us that this eternal hope is a gift to be received rather than a reward to be earned. Many people give hours of thought to planning a holiday in the sun, which lasts an all too brief few weeks, yet give no thought about preparation for eternity. If you would like to know how you can be certain about an eternity in paradise then please visit us on a Sunday or contact us during the week in the church office.

 This blog post featured in the July/August 2014 edition of Hook Focus