For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth… For I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy… – Isaiah 65:17-18 (NRSV)
As goes Jerusalem, so goes the world – at least in the biblical imagination – so of course when God wants to make a new heaven and a new earth, the transformation starts in J-town. Another way to state that claim is to say that the transformation of the universe will start in religious centers, the places where the worshipers of our God gather to worship.
Other voices in the Bible make decidedly different claims about this, but let’s just assume it might be true, and let’s check in:
How’s the revolution going in your particular religious center?
Isaiah says that the new heaven and the new earth will be marked by healthcare for everyone from the newborn to the elderly, and that as a result life expectancy is going to creep up toward 100. How are they doing at advocating for healthcare for all over at your place?
He says that nobody will steal the work of others’ hands or take their homes from them. Has your church been advocating for a livable minimum wage? Reparations for slavery? Justice for the dispossessed Native people on whose land your building stands?
He says that they shall not bear children for calamity, and that the blessings will extend to future generations. How’s the work to end multigenerational poverty going? To create schools and communities safe for every kind of kid?
If the transformation has started, our religious centers should be among the very first places changed. Does yours look like something new, or pretty much like the rest of the waiting world?
Come God, come. Start the revolution – within our churches or in spite of them. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.