Easter 5   Text: Revelation 21: -6

“Behold, I am making all things new.” That’s the last of the promises we find in scripture. It’s there in the final book of the bible, the one we call the Book of Revelation. There’s something there for us, isn’t there, that right at the end of our sacred text we have this promise that there is yet more to come … that God is not finished … we are not finished! And so the invitation to us-- well it’s more than an invitation … “Behold,” that signals an announcement! We’re being told: Look and see! Wake up to what God is doing, even now … creating, healing, renewing. “Behold I am making all things new.”

If we had nothing else to hold onto, wouldn’t this be enough.  “Behold I am making all things … all things … new.”

The promise in and of itself would be enough … and yet we have so much more. We have story upon story bearing witness to the truth of the on-going-ness of God’s new-making power for life at work even now … stories of reconciliation, stories of new directions taken, new leadership emerging, stories of new life rising out of the ashes of loss, broken dreams, broken hearts, broken minds; stories of overcoming deep divisions, old hatreds.

This past week in my time away on Study Leave -- I was with a community of 30 ministers gathering with Peter Short. On Wednesday we were treated to a morning with Dr David Kuhl … a beautiful man -- the founding physician of the palliative care program at St Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver in the 80’s; whose work in the meantime has been with people suffering from post traumatic stress, and now he’s shifted his energies in yet another direction, having recently founded The Men’s Initiative.
That morning we had together with him, he told us something of how this initiative came about. He was away at a conference, and one evening he was reading a book he had brought with him in which he came upon the stories of 3 women. These were women who spoke at the World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1998. He didn’t relate those stories to us in detail -- they were too brutal. But what he did tell us was that he found himself weeping at what these women recounted of their suffering at the hands of individual men and as a result of the evils of patriarchy. That same night he phoned his wife and said to her, “I’m leaving my job at UBC; I want to devote my life to working with men. I don’t know what that will mean for us but that’s what I have to do … for the sake of our daughters, our communities, our world.” You can hear in his voice, feel it through his vulnerability, and his tenderness and care … his commitment to wake up to his own white male privilege and to work with men for another way of being -- a way of well-being in their families, in the world. As it turned out when he returned to Vancouver and talked with staff at the School of Medicine, they said we would like you to stay on and pursue this work through our faculty.
So right now this work of transformation is underway.
There is it! “Behold I am making all things new.”

Yesterday I came upon the name Greta Thunberg [1]  for the first time. Perhaps you already know of her … that 16 year old girl from Sweden who has been aware of the devastation of climate change for half her life … and who can’t understand how talking about this and addressing this and taking action about this isn’t the top priority of governments and individuals all around the world. In August last year, she began to school strike for climate change action … committing to show up to protest every Friday outside the Swedish Legislative Assembly instead of going to school, until Sweden meets its Paris accord commitments. She asks what’s the point of an education if the scientific facts we already know aren’t effecting change.
At first it was just her … and then this school strike movement took off, not just in Sweden, but suddenly springing up all over the world! … young people out there in droves calling for action -- political, social and economic change. These are people who don’t have a vote … but who recognize the planet is in peril and the quality of their adult life is hugely threatened. One month ago Greta addressed the European Union at one of their official gatherings. She doesn’t hold anything back. She challenged these leaders, “You hold 3 emergency meetings about Brexit, but not one meeting about the climate emergency.” She refuses to conclude her speeches with words of hope … we need action she says. It is action that will give me and my generation hope.” Her speeches are going viral.

Meanwhile momentum is growing in North America with the proposal of a Green New Deal.[2]   If you haven’t heard about this, there are copies of an article explaining more, available for you to take with you today. Drawing on Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal that helped pull America out of the Depression, a Green New Deal aims at addressing the climate emergency and economic inequality. This initiative is bringing people from all walks of life, various political stripes, into conversation together to develop a shared vision for what a Green New Deal could look like for Canada. Already a couple of fundamental principles have begun to be put forward -- principles that will move us out beyond the polarizing conversation we’re currently stuck in. Imagine us pursuing a plan that bears these particular things in mind. Listen to this: A Green New Deal must
1. meet the demands of science and Indigenous knowledge and cut Canada’s emissions in half in 11 years while protecting cultural and biological diversity.
2. leave no one behind and build a better present and future for all of us -- in other words it holds a vision of caring for the environment AND fair and equitable employment.

There it is again, isn’t it? “Behold I am making all things new!”

Already coalitions have begun to emerge to convene conversations across the country, to raise awareness, to map out specific actions.  In fact this Thursday there is a town hall meeting at the Fernwood Community Centre. It starts at 6:30pm. And a further opportunity in Brentwood Bay on Saturday at 7pm. You see the home of God is indeed among mortals … even us! Even now! This is the stuff of a new heaven and a new earth!

What of the on-going-ness of God’s new-making power for life are you in touch with? What more might we bear witness to right here this morning … stories of reconciliation, stories of new directions taken, new leadership emerging, stories of new life rising out of the ashes of loss, broken dreams, broken hearts, broken minds; stories of overcoming deep divisions, old hatreds.
We’ve got time for a couple of “Behold I am making all things new” stories right now …

If the new-making Spirit of God is already at work in hidden and not so hidden ways, what are we up to with our own lives, with our resources, with all that we are and have been given, our love, our voice, our time, our strength, our intellect, our creativity, our imagination -- how are we lending our lives to what God is already up to? … how are we joining this powerful impetus for the renewing of creation?

It’s not about taking on the world. But it is about waking up to the world and noticing the signs all around us of God creating, always creating.  It’s about letting the irrepressible Spirit of life sing in our hearts, rise in our being, move in our hands … that we ourselves-- through our voice and our bodies-- may be signs of the very hope that sustains us.

 [1] Greta Thunberg Ted talk 

[2] Green New Deal