The New Heaven and the New Earth
1Then 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. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And 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; 4he 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.’ 6Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
On this New ears Eve we find ourselves reflecting on a familiar yet peculiar scripture from the 21st chapter of the book of Revelation, the last book in our bible. It's a peculiar scripture for this time of year because Revelation speaks of eschatology and the end of the world as we know it, but we are celebrating life and indeed a new year.
However this scripture is extremely relevant because it speaks of ultimate liberation and freedom in the light of the righteous and chosen by God to receive the new heaven and new earth, indeed to receive all things new.
For African Americans on this FREEDOMS EVE/ New Years eve the idea of liberation and new life that the scripture speaks of should speak directly to our hearts. Especially when we remember the significance of this day for us in American history. As many will journey to various celebrations, parties, get together's and Watch Night services at houses of worship. Remind yourselves that there is a history of Watch Night services in the Methodist tradition, but even more so in the in African American tradition. Watch Night Services in African American communities can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as Freedom's Eve.
On this night all those years ago Americans of African descent came together in churches, gathering places and private homes throughout the nation, nervously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed and therefore became law. Then at midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and Lincoln kept his promise, that all slaves in the Confederate States were to become legally free. People remained in churches and other places, awaiting word that Emancipation was declared. The news of freedom came later on that day to all, then came the tears, prayers and shouts as people fell to their knees praising God for deliverance and liberation.
It had seemed as if the words of Revelation were made real for African Americans everywhere, for we had received a new earth and new life, on December 31, 1862. However it was still another three years until each and every slave was freed, but this freedoms eve began it all.
Today in the midst of your celebrations take time out to reflect on what this freedoms eve means to you, your family, and friends. Also think about what new life and beginnings this New Year will bring you. How can you start over, be better, and do better?
Until Next Year- Be Well, Love Pastor J.