It’s one of those weeks where looking at the news presents us with a seemingly endless array of pain, injustice and suffering. Thousands lie under rubble in Nepal, repentant and reformed people face death by firing squad, rioting and looting troubles America, and at home politicians fight over who is to blame for poverty and food banks. It’s easy to forget that all of this exists only until.
A few weeks ago I was preparing to encourage our community as we gathered to share communion. I started to think over every word in the traditional passage of scripture and the one that stuck in my head was one of the very last ones. Until. I feel like in the face of events like this we need that word, until, more than ever.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
– 1 Corinthians 11:26 (ESV)
Right at the centre of the communion meal, right at the heart of what we do in remembrance, is a word that speaks of expectancy. Jesus did not leave us indefinitely; He did not leave the world to wade through an endless sea of hopelessness, He left us with the word until. He said do this until I come back and complete everything, and make all things new, and we eat and drink together not in this broken shadow of what could be but in my kingdom.
As Christians we are resurrection people. We don’t just believe in death, everyone believes in death, we believe in resurrection and that changes everything. Job, one of the earliest men of faith we know of, thought to have lived around the time of the patriarchs, endured trouble and trial we cannot even imagine and there, in the midst of it all, was able to raise his head and offer a clearer view of Christ than any other of his day:
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
– Job 19:25 (ESV)
Somehow in the midst of all of the injustice, the pain, the suffering, Job could see that someone was coming who would make everything right. That somewhere there existed a redeemer and that He would one day stand upon the earth and make everything right.
That fact remains true today. We should remember that right at the very heart of the communion meal is a thread of expectancy bound up in the word until. Our Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.
John, writing the book of Revelation, described that day like this:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
– Revelation 21:4-5 (ESV)
The last word is not the order for the firing squad to fire, the last word is not the funeral rite over a victim of an earthquake, the last word is not a guilty sentence. The last words in all of these circumstances are, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
He is making all things new. That’s a present statement, He is making all things new. We’re the vanguard of a new kingdom and a new creation; we must always stand, speak and act for justice and mercy. We must strive to be people whose lives make that perfect future reality invade our present world. And we should remember, in the face of suffering, that important word: Until.