Meeting Meditation, Luke 15:1-10


Nave Window, St. Paul’s, Westdale

Where is that darn passport?! Bags were packed, the family was assembled, the taxi was waiting but no passport! I tore around the house in a mad search of that elusive blue book. Of course it was finally discovered nestled safely between the pages of a novel I hoped to read. My heart picks up a beat just thinking about it!

Beginning of the meeting

Invite the community to gather. Share the story above, or your own story about a time you lost something.

Discussion Question

Can you recall a time when you lost something really important, the panic you felt at having lost it and the effort you went through to find it? Tell your “losing something” story. (Turn to the person next to you or in the large group share your story.)

Listen carefully to the story and sense the emotions of the shepherd and the woman.

Luke 15:1-10  Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance. ‘Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’

This scripture passage includes two parables about losing things (actually three if you include the prodigal son parable that follows). These parables are Jesus’ way of helping us better understand God’s love.

Discussion Questions

If God is the shepherd or the woman, who are the lost? Are we the lost?

What is God’s reaction to the lost? Does God scold or passively wait for their/our return?

How as a church community do we stray or get lost? (Take a few minutes of quiet to ponder this question, write down your reflections and then share in the small and/or large group.)

What have we learned about ourselves and God’s love that we need to acknowledge as a church and share as a people? 

End of the meeting

Read the passage once again and ask how God’s Word has been known in your time together.

“I once was lost but now am found.”

Love Letters has a new direction this year

Each week you will receive a scripture meditation process for church meetings. They will  allow you to reflect on one of the upcoming Sunday readings for the Revised Common Lectionary. Each mediation will include a:

  • group process
  • short overview
  • discussion questions

Each scripture meditation can be used to open committee meetings, church gatherings, governance sessions or simply as a personal devotion.

Well meaning church folk sometimes ponder the utility of engaging in scripture at a meeting. “I am only here for the church business,” is what one often hears. It is important to remind ourselves that our “business” is in all things to be faithful to our calling and stay connected to God’s Spirit, energy and direction. Otherwise we labour in vain. (Phil. 2:16)

My hope is that as clergy and lay leaders offer the Word of God in their ministry gatherings, these meditations will help enliven that process as a convenient and useful resource.

Meditation, Luke 14:25-33

The spiritual journey is filled with paradoxes. Here is one: the weight of the cross is freedom and life while the independence to accumulate worldly attachments can be a heavy burden and loss. This passage tells us to calculate the cost of both choices. Following Jesus—being faithful to God’s love—will have a cost, but one that brings a fullness of life.

Beginning of the meeting  Invite the community to gather. Light a candle. Ask people to quiet, relax, attend to their breathing and take a posture of prayer as they listen to the scripture passage. (Give a few moments of silence to allow people to shift gears and be open to God’s Spirit.)

LUKE 14:25-3325 Now large crowds were travelling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.” 31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. (NRSV)

Discussion Questions

  1. Is being part of a church community the same thing as being a follower of Jesus? How is it the same, how is it different?
  2. What is the cost of being part of a church community? What is the cost of being a follower of Jesus?
  3. What are the things, both personally and in our church, that get in the way, hold us back, weigh us down and keep us from being truly free in Christ?

Meditation  Once you have spent some time discussing the questions, call the committee to silence and a quiet posture of prayer. Read the passage once again. This time ask the gathered to listen for how this passage applies to their work and ministry associated with this meeting. What does God have to say to you and your church right now?

End of the meeting  Read the passage once again and ask how God’s Word has been known in your time together.

Trinity Sunday, June 16, 2019

Trinity Cross, St. Mark's Orangeville

Chapel Cross, St. Mark’s Orangeville

Love keeps changing! For me, it has gone from dependency to fusion to sacrifice. The underlying feelings have also made a journey from fear to fire to delight. As a child, love was all about someone else. All my love was towards my parents because I depended on them completely. Then it was all about me and my need to receive everyone else’s love. Eventually, I matured into some equilibrium where love was about both me and the other.

How would you describe love? Would you use words that talk about feelings, an activity, a concept? Could you describe it without experiencing it first? Certainly my experience has shown that love keeps changing and deepening as I mature and grow.

This is Trinity Sunday, and many of us will struggle with the philosophical rigour of the theological concept of the Trinity. What is John trying to say, anyway, with all this “mine and thine” discourse? Maybe it doesn’t need to be so convoluted and complex. As with spirituality, the difference between intellectual knowledge and actual experience can be compared to the difference between reading a menu and eating the meal. I wonder if that is why Adam and Eve ate the apple. But that is for another day…

What if the Trinity is simply a relationship of love? Not a childish love where we try to appease God. Not a youthful love where we voraciously consume God. Maybe the Trinity is more about the deepening love that respects distinctiveness while yearning for fulfilment through tenderness, courage, empathy, quiet, vigilance, suffering and delight. I am not sure we understand this until we have experienced it. What is your experience of love? And how is this part of your relationship with God?

May you know God’s self-giving love. And may it shape you into a lover.

JOHN 16:12-15 Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

ROMANS 5:1-5 Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. 

PSALM 8 O Lord our governor, how exalted is your name in all the world! Out of the mouths of infants and children your majesty is praised above the heavens. You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries, to quell the enemy and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you have set in their courses, What is man that you should be mindful of him? the son of man that you should seek him out? You have made him but little lower than the angels; you adorn him with glory and honour; You give him mastery over the works of your hands; you put all things under his feet; All sheep and oxen, even the wild beasts of the field, The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea. O Lord our governor, how exalted is your name in all the world!

PROVERBS 8:1-4, 22-31 Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out: “To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live. The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth – when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.” 

Easter 7, June 2, 2019

Spring Carpet

Spring Carpet, Hamilton ON, by Yohanna Harris

Could there be a more maligned phrase today than, “I’ll pray for you.”?

I remember it served as a threat once after a heated discussion about the ordination of women. (This feels like a long-ago topic now.) I was in seminary and my theological sparing partner, in desperation, was throwing in the towel. It was obvious to him that I was a lost cause and so I was commended to God, the final arbiter. “I’ll pray for you” meant “God, I did my best. You fix her!” It was dislocating to know that someone was petitioning God to alter the very thing I was being told by God to trust.

The latest misuse of this phrase is it’s use by conservative politicians in both Canada and the United States as a foil to avoid addressing divisive political issues. Instead of allowing a tragedy to help galvanize positive initiative, the phrase is used to divert attention and dismantle the impetus for change. “I’ll pray for you” in this case means “Look away. Nothing to see here.” Once again, it is dislocating to know someone is petitioning God to maintain the very thing people are being called by God to change.

Compare this with Jesus saying “I’ll pray for you.” In today’s Gospel, Jesus is saying goodbye to his disciples and offers a prayer. This is a prayer not just for them but for those who will come to believe—for us! His prayer was that we may be one with God and with each other. Ironic isn’t it that prayer can be used as an instrument of division for us but with Jesus it empowers unity.

How does prayer—true prayer—breakdown the barriers between us? When we set our self-righteousness aside, how does prayer help us see the enemy? How does prayer challenge us to realize we need each other, even the one who is not sure of my calling, worth or activity?

O Lord, I come to you in prayer. Help me understand my enemy. Help me humbly appreciate divergent perspectives and the blind spots of my own. Help me trust in your call and have the courage to see those who are on the margins and to speak out for those who do not have a voice. Help me love across all barriers. Amen.

Who is your enemy? What truth do they hold? What truth do you hold?

JOHN 17:20-26 Jesus said, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” 

REVELATION 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21  “See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. “It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen. 

PSALM 97 The Lord is king; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of the isles be glad. Clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne. A fire goes before him and burns up his enemies on every side. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees it and is afraid. The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. Confounded be all who worship carved images and delight in false gods! Bow down before him, all you gods. Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice, because of your judgements, O Lord. For you are the Lord, most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. The Lord loves those who hate evil; he preserves the lives of his saints and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light has sprung up for the righteous, and joyful gladness for those who are truehearted. Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name.  

ACTS 16:16-34 One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God. 

Easter 6, May 26, 2019

St. Barnabas

St. Barnabas nave window, St. Catharines

I am stuck! I admit it. I seem unable to move.

In the past month I have watched three of my daughter’s wonderful young teachers cut from next year’s provincial budget by a reckless, ignorant government. I have listened to escalating threats by two world superpowers elbowing their way to supremacy. I have heard about the mounting tensions in the Middle East, the continued cruelty along the Mexican-US border and restrictive legislation on women’s reproductive rights. And all the while I ignore the climate emergency siren call that continues to drone on.

And what have I done about any of this? Nothing! I am soothed by a market that keeps asking me if I want to be attractive, popular and admired. By current politics that asks me if I want to be secure. And by the church that keeps asking me if I want to be comforted.

It is as if I am paralyzed, lying alongside the pool. Agency is just beyond my reach and so I have convinced myself that I must wait for someone else to come along and move me into action.

Do I want to be well? Do WE want to be well? This is a sobering question and one where the answer is not as obvious as you might first think. I know that this kind of wellness comes from an encounter with Jesus, an abiding with God. Am I up for that kind of transformative spiritual commitment? Am I aware of the change that would be required? Would I even know how to take my first steps?

I am not sure, but I do know that I am getting sick and tired of this inertia, of the waiting.

Some questions to ponder: How is this current political moment surprising you? How are you numbed by the life you live? Where do you feel like you are sleeping through your passion, your call?

JOHN 5:1-9 After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids -blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath. 

ACTS 16:9-15 During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us. 

PSALM 67 May God be merciful to us and bless us, show us the light of his countenance and come to us. Let your ways be known upon earth, your saving health among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide all the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. The earth has brought forth her increase; may God, our own God, give us his blessing. May God give us his blessing, and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him.

REVELATION 21:10, 22-22:5 And in the spirit, an angel carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practises abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. 


Easter 5, May 19, 2019

Animals St. Pauls

The Garden Window, St. Paul’s Westdale

“Love!” Even though Jesus had just been betrayed and was about to be crucified, that was his final command. “Love one another” was an imperative that became the hallmark of the new Jesus followers. Tertullian said that Romans noted this and said, “See how those Christians love one another.”

I have found that in today’s church, the most challenging places to live out this Jesus imperative is at a church meeting. We may be towers of benevolent goodness in outreach and service, but ask the faithful to change a paint colour or increase the bazaar ticket price and it’s hard to see how anyone would know we were disciples with a mandate to love.

By the way, I don’t think it’s all our fault, necessarily. We haven’t been trained very effectively in how to behave as disciples in church meetings. Here enters Acts!

Acts provides great insight into how we might conduct ourselves as loving disciples. For example, the early church had to make a tough decision about the inclusion of non-Jews in the Jesus movement. Our reading this Sunday helps show us how the early leaders went about making a faith-filled, discipled decision in their meetings. Here are some principles we might consider incorporating into our meetings.

  1. Peter was influenced by a vision and a sense of the Holy Spirit. Acts 11: 5, 12 Be open to the possibility of the spiritual experience to help guide your decision-making. In other words, take the Pentecost promise seriously. If you are anything like me, you program the meeting so tightly nothing can derail the agenda, including the Holy Spirit! Overzealous management competence and Robert’s Rule of Order will get you a decision but it will not always get you faithful discernment.
  2. The apostles and other believers questioned Peter. Acts 11:1-3 Never let one person interpret the spiritual experience. The meaning and impact of the spiritual experience for the group must be discerned within the community.
  3. Peter tested his assumptions with an experience from the vision. Acts 11:15-17 Make “experience” the fourth leg of our Anglican stool along with scripture, tradition and reason. If you are voting on an outreach initiative for migrant workers, go meet a migrant worker or someone who knows about migrant ministry or at least read up on the issues. If you need to decide on the price of a new roof, explore current pricing and products. Pooled ignorance and relying on the way it used to be done, do not foster discipleship.
  4. Before they made a decision, the leaders listened, reflected on scripture and praised God. Acts 11:16-18 Make spiritual practices such as prayer and scripture meditation an integral part of the voting or decision-making process of a church meeting.

Some questions to ponder: How might we make our church meetings less business decision-making and more spiritual discerning? How might Jesus’ command to “Love one another” be more evident in our gatherings? Could the world around us say of us today: “See how those Christian love one another.”

JOHN 13:31-35 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

ACTS 11:1-18 Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.” 

PSALM 148 Hallelujah! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights. Praise him, all you angels of his; praise him, all his host. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, heaven of heavens, and you waters above the heavens. Let them praise the Name of the Lord; for he commanded, and they were created. He made them stand fast for ever and ever; he gave them a law which shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea-monsters and all deeps; Fire and hail, snow and fog, tempestuous wind, doing his will; Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars; Wild beasts and all cattle, creeping things and winged birds; Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the world; Young men and maidens, old and young together. Let them praise the Name of the Lord, for his Name only is exalted, his splendour is over earth and heaven. He has raised up strength for his people and praise for all his loyal servants, the children of Israel, a people who are near him. 

REVELATION 21:1-6 Then 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. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”