Rev Canon Dr John Senyonyi, Vice Chancellor
The Lady Canons are the 2016 national champions, the second time round to win this championship in two consecutive years! We are very proud of them and of their coach! It is a taste of the glory of winning or achieving greatness! It is just indescribable!
Away from the lady Canons, on New Year’s Day, I watched fireworks. They were somehow glorious. After that we also watched fireworks in some foreign cities – magnificent displays! The one at the Sydney Opera House always stands out. But that glory has now faded, and next year, you and I will be asking to watch some new fireworks, hopefully better than what we saw this year. That serves to remind us that the glory of this world fades.
Take a moment to remember or imagine the most beautiful place or event you have witnessed! It may have left sentiments but its glory faded too.
At the end of 2015 I lost a brother, Michael. He was a believer. Before he died, he got a glimpse of where he was going. Suddenly he felt no pain and he expressed a compelling desire to go! It was superb, so exceedingly beautiful that no earthly beauty, including the family he loved so dearly, attracted him here any more!
He could not put what he saw in human words. For the glory of heaven has no earthly or human words to describe it. I believe that he saw what I too long to see someday.
Similarly, John’s descriptions in our text of the New Heaven and the New Earth leave us curious for more. It is anthropomorphic language, using earthly images to describe heavenly glory! How can that be clear to us? What is this glory that God promises us? I don’t know, and even after reading and re-reading John’s narrative, I don’t know! Yet that does not make it any less true, for we know in part.
Moreover, there is an undying search in every human heart for the truth about life after death, and a nagging in each of us to be assured about our destination and what it will be like. As the wise man says, God
“… has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
Years ago, we lived in USA. I realised then how meaningless the prayer “Give us this day our daily bread” can become. How can you pray for bread if your fridge is full, different from when you didn’t even have a fridge? In the US, the latter scenario is rare, as most homes have fridges!
It also taught me that a full spiritual ‘stomach’ kills the longing for a future glory! There is just no need for an upgrade to this life! It is so cozy here that change is a disruption.
The most repeated word in our text is “NEW”. What is NEW? Groaning, weeping, hardships and unending deprivation characterises the present world. Even Christians may not always feel God’s presence.
In this life, we perennially long for a NEW world where all destitution is ended.
The Bible variously promises such a new world and a new dispensation. Of this, Paul says jubilantly, “Our citizenship is in heaven.…” This life is a temporary foreign residence; we are in transit. Home is where Jesus is.
What kind of home is this? It is the home of righteousness. Negatively, this means exclusion of all who are unholy and all that is impure. The presence of God signifies holiness; he cannot dwell with sin. All sinners are locked out!
Moreover, it is a place of everlasting bliss! All tears are wiped away. No more hurting souls. It is the restoration of the created order, as God intended it. He created us for joyful fellowship with him.
It is glorious, as it is our Saviour’s eternal residence. He dwells with the redeemed and his presence defines our new habitat. We shall talk with him face to face and walk with him in the paradise of God. Therefore, the future glory is a revelation of Jesus Christ. In Genesis 3, man was sent out of God’s presence. Now fellowship is restored forever!
Finally, in the future glory, Jesus is our sole object of worship. He will be our God. In this world, we are tempted to worship things with this waning glory. We wait for the unfading glory of the One on the throne, as this story illustrates.
During the Chicago fire of 1871, (Evangelist) D. L. Moody’s house burned down. As Moody surveyed the ruins, a friend said, “I hear you lost everything.” “Well,” said Moody, “you understand wrong. I have a good deal more left than I lost.” His friend asked, “What do you mean? You are not a rich man.” Mr. Moody opened his Bible and read to him Revelation 21:7,
“He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God.” John is actually saying to us: “Live like you are leaving; prepare for your future glory.” Amen.`