Monday, November 07, 2005

Never again...

These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.

Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
(Revelation 7:14-17, NIV)

These words are particularly comforting as I reflected on All Saints Sunday. As I get older, the list of people who have died - "gone on to GLORY," as my Gospel Choir friends would say - gets longer and longer.

I have never been a particularly heaven-minded person - I tend to think of the here-and-now, of God in flesh walking this earth, of the Holy Spirit guiding us and leading us. Before I came back to faith, I often thought that life was a vale of tears - but wasn't so sure about Heaven, because my sins weren't going to let me get *there*. But in faith, I see Christ's incarnation as the key - Emmanuel, God-with-us - and so I tend to be more focused on the real world, and real hurts and real pains.

But at this time of year, I think of my family and friends who have died in faith, and that's when this passage of of great comfort to me. I have faith and trust that there is an afterlife, that eternal life with God is possible (even for a schmuck like me!) thanks to faith in Christ. I have faith that eternal life means that those "never again" phrases in this passage from Revelation 7 are promises of eternal peace.

Those promises bring me peace in the here-and-now, as I think of my loved ones who have died in faith. And it's that faith that allows me, as I think of those who are gone, to sing:

"I'll see you, when I get home
In the sweet by-and-by,
And we'll walk along the streets of gold
With angels by our side,
And time will have no meaning there
In a land of no goodbyes,
Oh, it's good to know...
I'll see you, when I get home."
(4Him, "When I Get Home")

Save me a seat at the banquet table, y'all...

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