We believe that Jesus was the Messiah that God promised to the people of Israel. Coming to us in the flesh, Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises. Jesus and Christians alike observe the commandments in a covenant with God that is based on love. The word of God in the Old Testament forms part of public worship for both Jews and Christians.
The story of creation in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, tells us that the Spirit of God passed over the waters, and they stirred with life. In Exodus, the second book, God passed over the houses of a group of slaves and spared them from the angel of death. Then God led these people, the Israelites, out of Egypt, and they passed over into freedom. To mark the event of their passing over, God commanded the Israelite community to celebrate a sacred meal. The Jews are the descendants of the Israelites, whom God led out of Egypt. The story of the Exodus recalls what God did and continues to do for the Jewish people and all who believe, then and now. With the Jews we turn to the one and only God, who was first revealed to them. With them we love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength.
Throughout our lives the Church encourages us to prepare for the time of our death, when we will be led to new life in the Kingdom of God. The last rites are part of our preparation as we draw near to death and are about to make the final journey home to God. The Scripture readings during the Liturgy of the Word focus on God’s constant mercy and forgiveness. In the final farewell before the body is buried, the Church commends, or gives, the person who has died to God.
We are all beginners when it comes to working for the Kingdom of God now and waiting for its final coming in glory. Grace pulls us towards God’s reign, or Kingdom.
God sent a series of visions to a man named John. One was a vision of the new creation, God’s reign fulfilled. The Lord God Almighty and Jesus, the Lamb of God, had become the perfect temple. The entire city was lit by the brightness of God’s glory. Peoples from every nation would pass through the gates, bringing gifts and treasures to place before the throne of God.
What we do for the least of God’s people is important now in this life.
Our invitation to feast in God’s Kingdom began with the signs and wonders of creation. Out of love God created man and woman and gave them a garden filled with every kind of tree delightful to look at and good for food. But the first humans turned away from God, and sin and evil entered the world. God did not turn away from us, however God kept sending us signs of hope and promise, especially through the people of Israel. If they remained faithful, God promised, they would enter a land flowing with milk and honey.
We celebrate the sacraments as constant reminders that God’s reign is among us. Our hop is in God’s promise of salvation and the life of the world to come. In this world right now, while we wait, we must serve God by loving one another.
Through signs God gives us grace, shows us love, and tells us about wonders we cannot see. At the Easter vigil we give thanks and praise to God for Christ’s victory over death in the resurrection. In Christ’s dying and rising, we experience God’s love. In the Kingdom of God, present and to come, we will live in God’s love forever.