"Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution."
On March 31, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the last Sunday sermon of his life at the National Cathedral, of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC. He chose as his text the words of the victorious Jesus at the end of time in the Book of Revelation chapter 21, "...The former things are passed away... Behold I make all things new." The title of his sermon was "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution."
Certainly, the late 1960's in which Dr. King preached that sermon was a time of great revolution, but I wonder if we ourselves in our own time might consider these days as a time of great revolution as well? There clearly are social structures that are crumbling around us. Institutions that are failing, wars and rumors of wars, climate change, gun violence, inequality, homelessness, racism and tribalism. Still the vision Dr. King set before our eyes that day nearly 51 years ago echoes from the pages of scripture. Jesus, the Lord of history, calling us to remember that in the middle of social revolutions there is the vision of the new creation: "Behold, I make all things new."
But that vision of the future is not something in which we can rest -- or even fall asleep, while waiting for its ultimate fulfillment by and by. As Dr. King said in that sermon days before he was martyred on behalf of that glorious future vision: "Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God.”
Then let us in our days of revolution not be found sleeping but active in God's service, seeing before our eyes the vision of Revelation where earth and heaven are joined. John the seer and prophet saw it. Martin the seer and prophet saw it too:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. (Rev. 21:1-5, King James Version)