See ‘a new heaven and a new earth’

By Vinal Van Benthem | For The Compass | May 11, 2022

“Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.” What if each one of us substituted our own name for John’s? What would we see?

Jay is an architect. Several years ago, he and one of his college classmates partnered with two other architects to form their own firm. Since then, they have hired additional architects and a small support staff, and moved into a larger facility, which they designed and built around the needs of their growing endeavor. Along the way, they’ve had to learn to deal with different personalities and work styles. They’ve attended classes and conferences on management and conflict resolution, determined to create a healthy and affirming work environment for themselves and for their employees. “Then I, Jay, saw a new heaven and a new earth.”

Jay and his associates are also aware of their responsibility to be good stewards of the earth. Looking ahead to the needs and opportunities of the 21st century, they have begun to develop a new vision of what they do and how they do it. One of the ways in which they are making their vision real is by designing buildings that are environmentally innovative. Currently they are in the process of putting together plans for an entire complex of buildings — residential and commercial — that will use and conserve solar heat and energy and incorporate recycled materials wherever and whenever possible. “Then I, Jay, saw a new heaven and a new earth.”

God promises a “new heaven and a new earth” and then invites us to use our gifts as co-workers in the ongoing work of creation.

The architect sees a new world based on sustainable energy and conservation of resources.The bioengineer sees a new world where people with disabilities live with dignity and independence. The farmer sees a new world where the earth is tended with care and food produced responsibly. The list goes on and on, people envisioning a “new heaven and a new earth,” seeing with new eyes.

“Then I (your name), saw a new heaven and a new earth.” What do you see? What gifts do you bring?

Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.

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