Tag Archives: Revelation 21

Celebration Tension


Martin-Luther-King-Jr-Famous-QuotesToday is both Dr. Martin Luther King day and the second inauguration of President Obama. Each are worthy of deeper reflection, but as Lutheran pastor in mid-west America, I don’t have much to give other than I am thankful and yet yearning.

I am thankful for a nation that can honor one of its slain civil rights leaders, who spoke out against the injustices of racism and poverty in our nation. Thankful that Dr. King’s dream of equality is now woven into our national ethos. His life’s work still inspires me.

I am also thankful that we can celebrate our nation’s ability to transition power peacefully.  President Obama is starting his second term, but I am quite confident that in four years our nation will elect a new leader and continue the process of handing the presidential authority to that leader. I may or may not have voted for that person, but still he or she will be my president.

Yet I continue to yearn. Yearn for the day that King’s dream of a true equality and prosperity is our nation’s (and even world’s) reality. Yearn for the day that our leaders can lead us with unity, strength and harmony.  Yearn for the day our nation can truly be the beacon of hope for the world.

I know that part of that yearning comes from my faith in Jesus Christ, and the promised of God’s kingdom. We live in the “already” of God’s victory in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but we yearn for the “not yet” of the new heaven and new earth.

 Already: This is written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).

Not yet: See the home of God is among mortals, He will dwell with them; and they will be his people, 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 (Rev. 21:3-4).

Today’s celebration lives in that tension. I am thankful for the many wonderful blessing that our nation has experienced, while recognizing there is much work to be done and that God’s kingdom has not fully arrived. I do not want to confuse the United States of America with God’s kingdom, yet I remain very thankful that I am an American citizen.

How do you respond to this day’s celebrations?

Lord Jesus, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

No Place Like Home

My siblings are preparing to sell Mom’s home. My mom has lived in a memory care unit in Woodbury for nearly a year. She lived in her home in Bremerton WA for more than 40 years, but I doubt she will ever return. I lived there for only six years before leaving for college and then seminary, yet I have a deep attachment to the place. A big part of the attachment was the magnificent view from the back deck, so my brother sent me a last picture from that favorite spot.

The steel-blue waters of the Puget Sound were a steady source of comfort and peace. The ferry from Seattle emerged from Bainbridge Island every few hours as well as the occasional sailboat. Once a huge the huge aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise, steamed by, heading for the naval shipyard. In my first couple of summers there I had a small row-boat in which I explored neighboring bays. It was crushed in a winter storm. Ships and boats on the Sound would come and go, but the constant slap of the waves never left me.

I always struggle with the final vision of Revelation 21:

Then I saw a new heaven and new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. Rev. 21:1

I understand that for the Jews the sea was a symbol of chaos and destruction. Just read the story of Noah or Jonah in the Old Testament. The Jews were not sailing people, so the promise of no sea was good news for them. I however would miss it.

Bremerton Ferry and Mount Rainier

I am guessing that mom’s house will sell quickly, especially if someone stops by on a very clear day (okay, Washington state does not have a surplus of those). But what you cannot see in my brother’s  picture is Mount Rainier on the horizon. On a bright clear day it stands like a giant snow ball for all to see. It was a constant reminder of me that God loomed over all, even when the clouds block my sight. I hope the new owner discovers the same inspiration I have experienced.

Is there a place that inspires and comforts you?

Lord Jesus, thank you for your promise to be always with us, no matter where we are.