In Easter Sunday services, we read from the prophet Isaiah the message of resurrection hope: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered. . .” The passage ends with the gospel promise of peace: “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together. . . They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain” (from Isaiah 65:17-25).
But what were these “former things” that will one day be forgotten? Weeping, says Isaiah. Cries of distress. Infant mortality, and families torn apart by disease and untimely death. Homelessness, poverty and slave labor.
Those sorrows will be forgotten. . . One day. But that day has not yet arrived.
In this season of death and resurrection, we remind ourselves that God has cast his lot with his weeping creatures. He became like us in our mortality and suffering, and refuses every chance to escape sharing our lot until his final, exhausted breath on the cross. And we see in the Easter sunrise God’s faithfulness in overcoming death, his unfailing presence among his creatures, and his promise of newness – “new heavens and a new earth.”
As we follow the unfolding calamity of climate disruption, we watch “potential” scenarios morph into “expected” outcomes, and then into very real, present crises. Drought, flood, famine and tempest beset our world now, and threaten much worse in the days ahead. And we are tempted to wish for a Messiah who will undo these ills by heavenly magic, just as the Pharisees wished for a divine Warrior riding to liberate Jerusalem. Instead, our God comes to us bearing our suffering and grief, and emerging from the tomb to reconcile all things to himself.
We cannot know for certain what troubles lie ahead for our injured world. But we know this: Our God bears them with us. God is leading us even now as he sows the seeds of newness – beyond our understanding – promised to all his creatures.
Risen Lord Jesus Christ, you know our fears for the future, for ourselves, our children, and for generations to come. Grant us the grace to follow you boldly, knowing that you do not stand far off in heavenly safety. Open our hearts to embrace you as the God who never abandons his creation, however we have injured it. For we know that whatever we do to the world you love, we do it to you. Amen!