Revelation 21:1-6 (NRSV)
Chapter 21Then 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. Verse 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Verse 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; Verse 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." Verse 5And 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." Verse 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.
I recently read these verses from Revelation to a young person who is dying of cancer and will soon be leaving all that is known for the, as yet, unknown. As a person of faith, this person has been struggling for years with what has been happening. During that time, a child was born who will be left behind. There are parents, who are caregivers who love dearly. There are siblings near and far who cannot all be present. Through all this, the greatest hope is for the final relief from pain. Through the promise of the water of life, freely given, past guilt and fears have been released.
As hard as it may be to see sometimes, God is doing a new thing here. God is wiping away tears, taking away pain. God is swallowing up death and turning mourning into a victory dance.
As I, too, ponder these things, the following prayer, that many of us are familiar with, has taken on new meaning:
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (ELW, “Morning Prayer” p. 304)