On Either Side of the River

“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.” (Revelation 22: 2b from Revelation 21:1-22:5 )

Today is the last day of the year, and the last day that this blog focuses on right relationships, justice, and shalom – or at least in a concentrated way. I am sure in 2014 we will touch on the same sort of issues; dealing rightly and fairly with each other and promoting God’s peace. But in 2014 we will be looking at verses that the historic Anabaptists used. C. Arnold Snyder’s book, Reading the Anabaptist Bible is the source of these verses, and five years ago when “Sip of Scripture” last used these verses, Arnold was generous enough to provide me with a copy of the book. I will be drawing on that same resource for 2014. But back to the verse for today.

Thinking about healing of the nations and moving from the old year into the new year, I was struck by the “either side” notion, and the image of the tree of life bridging from one side to the other. The concept of bridge building is a good one when one thinks about moving from the old to the new, and for changing one way of being for another. Those who were enemies are now friends, and we have “bridged” the gap that separated us. Because we have moved over and beyond what separated us, we can now dwell as friends. This is as relevant and possible a concept for individuals as it is for nations. In fact, if nations can bridge over and get past what separated them, it is more likely that individuals in the nation will make that positive movement too. BUT then the nation needs to bridge and move past what separates the entities within it, and unfortunately gentle reader we do not seem to do well at that.

So I must ask myself, and I ask you, has this past year made a difference in your life? Has the focus of right relationships, justice, and shalom helped you or refocused, or even changed your thinking? Has it made a difference? I do not assume or pretend to think that solely what I have written has made a change in you; what I hope instead is that as you have read what I have written God has spoken to you and fostered and nourished your thinking. If that has been the case, then I am content.

There are many things I wish and hope for myself in the new year, and I hope and pray that God will bless you with what you need for the new year. I am excited about what God will reveal to me in the coming year through the verses that the historic Anabaptists used, and I would be honored if you journey with me this coming year.

May your year end sum up all that was good this year, and dispel all that was not good. And may the new year find you ever closer to God, and ever closer to those around you. Selah!