Receiving and reflecting
The theme of this year's meeting of the Serbia-North Macedonia-Albania Annual Conference was: "Behold, I make all things new" (Revelation 21:5). In the closing service, I preached on the preceding verses. In the 2nd verse, John describes how he sees the Holy City coming down from heaven, from God. Not by human hands, but by God's hands it is made. Not from the bottom up, as we humans build our structures, but from the top down, God's city comes into being.
One of the superintendents asked in his report about the mission of the church. A partial answer is given by the verse mentioned: It is not the mission of the church to build the Holy City, which means God's new world, the new creation. This is entirely God's business! History shows: Where people in the past have tried to build paradise on earth, it failed thoroughly, and injustice and violence did not decrease, but increased. Actually, no miracle! For when people try to take God's place, it can only go wrong.
But what is our business then? I'll try it this way: Our first task is to let ourselves be loved by God, to simply expose ourselves to Him and His unconditional love, to stretch out our empty hands to Him so that He may fill them. Our second task: filled and permeated by his transforming love, to love him, to give him of our time, to praise him. Finally, transformed and empowered by his love, to do good to people and all creatures, thereby reflecting and transmitting God's love in this world. This means reflecting something of what characterizes the "Holy City" – God's new world: God's love, shalom, justice, joy.
Is this not relieving and liberating and a reason for gratitude and joy? Not to have to frantically build God's new world, but simply to receive and reflect what He is doing to us! And to marvel at how again and again our words become his words and our deeds his deeds!
Bishop Stefan Zürcher