Still to Come: The Fullness of God's Plan

In today’s scripture lesson we have the start of John’s ultimate depiction of what is still to come. First there was a great and cataclysmic battle engaging rulers of this world and the spiritual powers. This was followed closely by the fall of the Great City, Babylon. And now, in the final scene of John’s vision comes the appearance of a new heaven and new earth, and a Heavenly City—the new Jerusalem—coming down out of heaven from God.  Of course no human imagination can truly perceive these things, nor can any human language adequately express them. Nonetheless, the author uses his vivid imagery as metaphors to point our hearts in the direction of God.

For in the end, God is what remains. God’s own self becomes our tabernacle or dwelling place. God is not depicted as a furnishing of heaven, or as a separate entity who brings about an end.  For John of Patmos, God is the end and completion of all. We are tempted at times to ask “when the world in which we live has been been fully, rightly judged by God, what will be left? What can withstand? What shall remain? What will be different and what will we recognize?” John’s clear and dramatic response is to say, simply, “in the end…God.”


This week we continue our Eastertide sermon series, “Still to Come.”  Drawing on images from the Book of Revelation, this series invites the church to rise above its present day challenges and circumstances, and live as citizens of heaven, embracing God’s final vision of justice and righteousness.

Still to Come: The Triumphant Church

Revelation 7:9-17

The author of Revelation gives us another picture of worship in Chapter 7, and while the setting is the heavenly throne-room of God, the context for this worship entails all that the church on earth has to endure. For we see standing before the throne a vast multitude—far more than can be counted—from every tribe and nation on earth. They have come through a severe ordeal, and now the ordeal is over and they are singing the song of their salvation.

“Salvation,” they cry, “belongs to God and to the Lamb!” They understand that while they walked in the midst of struggles, persecution, trials, temptations, and daily challenges to the Christian way, their very faith and salvation hung in the balance. None could have made it through, except that God’s grace brought them strength to endure. To their robust praise of the God who saves them, the angels themselves can respond, “Amen!” And so all of heaven and earth join at last to sing the song of salvation.

The picture we see is not of a church whose courage and determination won them the right to share in the victory of Christ.  What we see instead is a church who, because they already share communion in Christ, became determined and brave. By grace alone the church on earth has become the church triumphant.


This week we continue our Eastertide sermon series, “Still to Come.”  Drawing on images from the Book of Revelation, this series invites the church to rise above its present day challenges and circumstances, and live as citizens of heaven, embracing God’s final vision of justice and righteousness.

The Song of Shalom

Psalm 126

Life is filled with moments of hardship, struggle, setback, illness, frustration, sin and shame. The songs of enduring faith reflect these realities in expressions of lament, of trust, of assurance and reassurance, of confession, and of pleading for grace. When these moments are complete, however, a new song emerges: the song of shalom.

“Shalom” derives from a Hebrew word which means, “to be safe in mind, body, or estate.” It speaks of completeness, fullness, or a type of wholeness that encourages one to give back. True biblical shalom refers to an inward sense of completeness or wholeness.

We often lose sight of the fact that “shalom” was the condition in which—and for which—all things were created, even our own self. We were made for shalom, and shalom is our default setting. Though it can be hard to fathom in times of testing, the trials and struggles and battles with sin are not “God’s normal” for us. Shalom is that state of being for which we are created, and when it touches our lives we become “like those who dream…our mouths filled with laughter and our tongues with shouts of joy.”


The “Songs of Enduring Faith” series is based on lectionary readings from The Book of Psalms. This series explores the breadth of experience and depth of resilience found in God’s people, as revealed through their most central worship materials. Before the psalms were written and saved as scripture, they are first of all part of the soundtrack of God’s people. You’re invited to lean in, listen closely, learn the heart of God’s people, and receive the gift of these songs, for they are Songs of Enduring Faith.

The Song of Confession

Psalm 32

Sin is a word that has fallen out of use lately. It’s a topic that no one seems to want to address in depth, even in churches. Especially in churches. The effects of it are everywhere and easily discerned in the world around us, but few are calling it by name. To make matters worse, sin bears its consequences terribly within individual persons, causing our bodies to waste away and our strength to dry up. This is not a new phenomenon. It is as old as Adam and Eve, and every generation has struggled to come to grips with sin and its effects.

The Psalmist shows us a pathway to healing in Psalm 32, first by pointing out that the real issue is not the psalmist’s sin but rather the psalmist’s failure to acknowledge and confess sin. Unrecognized and unacknowledged sin is one of the most destructive forces we can know, and the only way to break its power is to break our silence before God. In the breaking of our silence comes the greatest grace, so that in our fear and weakness God’s power and love are revealed. The God who can trusted in every other way can be most trusted with our sin. But we must first join the ancients in singing the song of confession.


The “Songs of Enduring Faith” series is based on lectionary readings from The Book of Psalms. This series explores the breadth of experience and depth of resilience found in God’s people, as revealed through their most central worship materials. Before the psalms were written and saved as scripture, they are first of all part of the soundtrack of God’s people. You’re invited to lean in, listen closely, learn the heart of God’s people, and receive the gift of these songs, for they are Songs of Enduring Faith.

The Song of Seeking

Psalm 63:1-8

People across the faith spectrum have grappled with the notion of a just and moral universe. For the Hindu people, there is karma. For the Buddhist there is the constant interplay between yin and yang, two opposing forces which balance one another and keep the universe in equilibrium. For atheists there is the scientific notion of a deep, hard-to-perceive order within the chaotic randomness of the universe. Even rabid Star Wars fans will talk about the “Force.” For Christians, there is the notion of grace, and divine justice for all.

Yet for all the desire humans have to see justice prevail, in this world evildoers and malefactors often prosper. Greed seems to run unchecked. Crime goes unpunished. The rich stay healthy and the sick stay poor…this is not only accepted but often the goal of the powerful few. It is enough to cause the most faithful person to begin questioning—“where is God in all this?”  

The Psalmist reminds us that by some strange work of grace in our lives, God is able to use thirst, hunger, adversity, and hardship to cultivate a deep longing for God’s presence. It is not that God is the cause of hard circumstances, nor does God sanction enemies to come against us. But God is at work when all these things happen. The voice we ignored when we were well fed and comfortable now comes to fill us spiritually when we are without. When all we have left is God, then God is everything.


The “Songs of Enduring Faith” series is based on lectionary readings from The Book of Psalms. This series explores the breadth of experience and depth of resilience found in God’s people, as revealed through their most central worship materials. Before the psalms were written and saved as scripture, they are first of all part of the soundtrack of God’s people. You’re invited to lean in, listen closely, learn the heart of God’s people, and receive the gift of these songs, for they are Songs of Enduring Faith.

The Song of Hope

Psalm 27

At first blush, current events in our world would seem to offer little or no reason for hope.  Terrorists shock, bullies prevail, corruption and greed and deceitfulness run unchecked through all sectors of society, and those malign people who foment the trouble are the first to prosper. Add to that natural disasters and out of control environmental challenges at every turn, and there seems little reason for anyone to be optimistic.

And yet there is an unquenchable hope in the heart of God’s people, and especially those who are disciples of Jesus. This is because the hope to which we cling—the hope of which we sing—is not a response to the circumstances of this world.  It is instead a fierce and tenacious work of continually looking forward to the eternal. This does not mean singing syrupy songs of platitude or escapism; we passionately sing into the present hardship with the strength and conviction of the triumph of God’s grace. This is a true song of Hope.

The “Songs of Enduring Faith series is based on lectionary readings from The Book of Psalms. This series explores the breadth of experience and depth of resilience found in God’s people, as revealed through their most central worship materials. Before the psalms were written and saved as scripture, they are first of all part of the soundtrack of God’s people.

Lean in, listen closely, learn the heart of God’s people, and receive the gift of these songs, for they are Songs of Enduring Faith.


The “Songs of Enduring Faith” series is based on lectionary readings from The Book of Psalms. This series explores the breadth of experience and depth of resilience found in God’s people, as revealed through their most central worship materials. Before the psalms were written and saved as scripture, they are first of all part of the soundtrack of God’s people. You’re invited to lean in, listen closely, learn the heart of God’s people, and receive the gift of these songs, for they are Songs of Enduring Faith.

The Song of Assurance

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16

Music plays an important role in our daily lives and is woven into the fabric of society. We listen to music while alone or in company, in a dance club or at home, through simple headphones or via high-end speakers, as background or as foreground, after we get up or before we go to bed. Music accompanies us when we are traveling, playing or watching sports, shopping, working or relaxing. Music seeps into our souls, and is an important tool for instruction—you can ask any child or adult to sing their ABCs and a smile of recognition will break out.

As music is for us today, so it was for the ancients, and so today we begin a new preaching series for Lent entitled “Songs of Enduring Faith.” Based on lectionary readings from The Book of Psalms, this series explores the breadth of experience and depth of resilience found in God’s people, as revealed through their most central worship materials. Before the psalms were written and saved as scripture, they are first of all part of the soundtrack of God’s people. The psalms contain hymns for worship, proclamations of praise, affirmations of trust, pleas for help, laments of loss, words of pure adoration, and so much more.

Lean in, listen closely, learn the heart of God’s people, and receive the gift of these songs, for they are Songs of Enduring Faith.


The “Songs of Enduring Faith” series is based on lectionary readings from The Book of Psalms. This series explores the breadth of experience and depth of resilience found in God’s people, as revealed through their most central worship materials. Before the psalms were written and saved as scripture, they are first of all part of the soundtrack of God’s people. You’re invited to lean in, listen closely, learn the heart of God’s people, and receive the gift of these songs, for they are Songs of Enduring Faith.