notre dame montreal

Living in an uncertain world

Sermon notes by The Reverend Dr Sam Cappleman on Revelation Chapter 21 v 1 - 6 

We live in an uncertain world and sometimes it’s difficult to work out what’s really going on and who is telling the truth, are people really who they say they are

Recently someone had a conversation with someone they thought was me for 15 minutes before they realised they were talking to the wrong person

He certainly understood that people aren’t always whom they seem

We’re not even sure which John wrote the book of Revelation, but in it, whoever wrote it, we have Jesus clearly stating who He is and what He stands for

He says ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End’. He is the all creative God who is with us always, from the beginning to the end of time

In the Bible notes this week some symmetries between Genesis and Revelation are highlighted

One of them is in the use of he first and last letters of the alphabet which are used to describe God and Christ, the alpha and the omega, or in Hebrew the aleph and the tov

In the last verses of the last book of the bible we have Christ described as the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all things

In the first verse of the first book we have something very similar because in the original Hebrew the letters aleph and tov are seen in the very first verse just after the words ‘In the beginning God’.

But one way of reading the first verse of the bible could be ‘In the beginning God, the aleph and the tov, the alpha and the omega, created the heavens and the earth’

And in the last few verses of the last chapter of the last book, that same alpha and omega creative force, who created the heaven and the earth, is recreating the New Heaven and the New Earth as He make all things new

He was there at the beginning, and He will be there at the end as He brings all things to completion

Now perhaps the beginning and end seem clear…

Only sometimes, it’s the middle bit, the bit where we are right now, the current times, which doesn’t seem quite so clear when we look around at the mess the world seems to have got itself into

But because Jesus was there at the beginning and will be there at the end we can be sure He’s with us now, in the middle

Interestingly enough the Jews also had a saying that was in essence ‘I am ‘emet’, the beginning, the middle and the end!

In some ways it’s a bit like a game of chess

We have the opening gambits where things generally follow an understandable pattern; we have the end game where the final outcome is getting clear

And in the middle we have the middle game, where things aren’t quite as understandable, the outcome doesn’t appear to be clear

But because Jesus knew it might not be clear in the middle He gives us the central principle (or emet or truth) to live by

He says, ‘This is my commandment, love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another’

The Israelites were in the desert when they received the commandments. They’d left Egypt, the beginning was over; but they had not yet arrived at the end, the Promised Land. They were in the middle and God gave them the commandments to guide them through the middle

Just as the Israelites were in the desert/middle when they received the 10 commandments so Jesus gives us a commandment whilst we are in the middle, we’ve left where we came from on our journey of life but not yet fully arrived at our final destination, although some may be closer than others, and sometimes it feels we’re a bit like the Israelites in the dessert, just going round in circles

Jesus gives us a commandment, He says, ‘Love one another as I have loved you’

Sometimes we like to make things very complicated and wrap things up in complex theologies and philosophies whereas Jesus’ command is quite simple

‘Love one another as I have loved you’

A reminder that our faith is ultimately about a relationship, not about an intellectual system, encountering God not just knowing about God, a relationship with Him and through Him to those around us

‘Love one another as I have loved you’ – all are included

This sometimes means we are called into relationships with those around us who are different, as Peter explains to the disciples in Jerusalem in the first lesson

And as we go out to build those relationships, so we too begin to build the New Heaven and the New Earth, the New Jerusalem

Because as we go out, the all creative alpha and omega God goes with us

Rome wasn’t build in a day and it’s possible that the New Jerusalem won’t be either

But as we step out that New Creation in us and in the world becomes a little closer

As we walk down the road, we walk down the road with the same God who hovered over the Genesis waters

We walk down the road with the same God who offered hope to a fallen world

We walk down the road with the God who is what He seems, the beginning and ending of all things

Could be an exciting walk home for some this morning!