In real estate they say: location, location, location.
Sarah and I kept that in mind last week as we strapped the kids into their car seats and drove out to look at a house on Mountainbrook Drive.
We had seen pictures of the house online and they looked great…
But when arrived there, we found the house to be more beautiful than we had expected.
It had four bedrooms
I liked the location because it was close to church
(not as close as our current arrangement, but close)
I even liked the name…”mountainbrook” sounded natural and earthy
and like the kind of name you’d like to see on your mail.
Walking through the house… it felt like home.
The yard was small but we decided we could live with that.
When we walked the property, though, we discovered there were a series of yellow poles running along the back fence. Markers, which were emblazoned with the words: Plantation Pipeline Natural Gas.
Just to be safe, I spent literally an entire day on the phone trying to find out the story of what these poles would mean for the owner of that house.
In the end, the story was that those yellow markers represented a 30-foot easement…in a really small backyard.
We loved the house, so we decided that could be okay.
But after we slept on it… we felt that, for us, it was a deal-breaker.
The best I understood it then, and the best I understand it now: Plantation Pipeline owns those 30 feet…and they can do ANYTHING they want with it, without asking your opinion.
They could come in and build a waterpark!
But they could come in and put a landfill!
As Sarah tells me, neither of these things is likely. The worse-case scenario is probably that they would just come and cut down any tree you tried to plant, but ultimately we felt we had to pass on the house.
Location, location, location…
That’s what they say, when you’re looking for a home…and we…all of us and all of humankind, are all in need of a home.
We need shelter from the storms of life.
We need a community in which to be our true self.
We all need a place of belonging, where we have a seat at the table.
Truly, our hearts are restless until we find rest in God.
And we have no home until we find our home in God.
How good then, to know: the Architect of the Cosmos designs a home just for us.
Hear the Revelation of Jesus Christ again and see the vision it describes…John writes:
“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. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying:”
“See, the home of God is among mortals”
God’s home is among you and me….Living with us, dwelling with us.
God prepares a home for us and invites us to come in
and set our boxes down and unpack our suitcases,
to rest from our travels and make ourselves at home in his embrace
where there will be no more tears, or death, or mourning, or pain.
This vision of a new home with God, free from sadness and suffering would’ve been an astonishing message of hope for the first recipients of the Revelation.
John received and wrote down this vision and sent it to the Christian churches sometime just before the end of the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian in the year 96. He was writing to people who lived in true fear of the consequences of their faith in Christ.
At that time, in Rome and the surrounding areas, there was daily pressure to compromise and worship the emperor and to bow down to Empire.
In fact, John himself was writing from exile on the island of Patmos, having been sent away because of his faith.
And John tells us in his letter of the slaughtering of some for witnessing to the Word of God.
This astonishing message of hope comes in the form of a vivid vision of the cosmic battle between God and the forces of death, grief, and suffering in the world, and the emotional and spiritual climax of the vision is the picture John paints of a new heaven and a new earth.
You see, we might hope and even expect to hear God will create a new earth.
We are reminded earth needs re-creating every time we hear of another suicide bombing or militant attack; when we remember the violence and the failing schools in our own city; when we experience heartbreak in our own lives…
but God, surprisingly, even creates a new heaven!
Just as God, in the beginning, created the heavens and the earth and it was GOOD.
So God will RE-create the earth and the heavens…and the end of all things will be GOOD….
And this vision is given TO US (and to all those living in the time between that good beginning…and that good ending…) in order to reassure us:
That living under daily pressure to bow down to the gods of this world… will come to an end.
That Christians who are persecuted for their faith… will be vindicated.
That for all of us who may feel, at times, like we want to give up on ourselves, or the world, or who feel that the stresses and pressures of life are too much….God will make all things new!
And listen to this:
coming down out of heaven to be the center of the earth is a New City–
a holy city for us to live together in…
And the MLS listing for this city describes its desirability:
Location, location, location!
It is located IN GOD.
God says: forget about looking to get into a good school district, because EVERYTHING will be good!
A new heaven, a new earth, a new Jerusalem, a new home…God will make all things new…
This vision is not a “pie in the sky” vision, not a pipedream, not like some mad hope that someone will build a waterpark in the easement of your backyard…
This vision of God making all things new is already happening.
In the cross, the Good End which is to come, is breaking into the world now…we already see God’s unlimited love…
In Christ crucified, God is already making all things new.
We announce this when we sing the words of the Hymn of Praise:
“Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who was slain
whose blood set us free to be people of God.
This is the feast of victory for our God.
Power, riches, wisdom, strength, and honor blessing and glory are his.”
Singing these words, which come straight from the fifth chapter of Revelation, allow us enter the song of praise around the very throne of God with all the company of heaven.
We proclaim that heaven is coming to earth and God is making all things even now, when we live together and share life in this Community of Love. Here, in this place, its okay to be yourself…and to be the person God has made you…as we try to live out Christ’s command to love one another as he has loved us.
As much as Sarah and I, or any of us, ever wants to find the perfect house – to find a place where we can make memories, and share special moments, and show hospitality to friends and visitors… in the end, our search for the right house isn’t such a good illustration of God’s ultimate plans for us.
When God describes the NEW HOME he will create for us, he doesn’t give us a vision of a house…but of a city.
In a city, you see, people live together as a community, dependent on one another. There is an economy in which all have something to offer and all have need of one another. There is a mutuality in which everyone contributes for the welfare of all.
Thanks be to God that he prepares a new home for us…and thanks be to God that even now, God is our home…
– sheltering us, protecting us, gathering us as a family, and granting us the hospitality to welcome other fellow travelers.
(…a city whose foundation is laid in love, whose governance is kindness, and whose boundaries are open to all…)
God is our home and he is a home, sweet home.