The Introit or entrance psalm for Christ the king Sunday in 2014 begins and ends not with words from a psalm but with 2 Peter 3:13,
In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (NIV)
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (ESV)
Righteousness is God’s perfection. We know that though God is perfect and created the heavens and the earth and all that is in it perfect, when Adam and Eve fell the creation fell into a state of disruption and infidelity toward God. We have continued to disfigure God’s good world with our sin. What had been, as Luther writes, “There were no stinging nettles or prickly thorns and thistles or noxious creatures, worms or vermin in Paradise, but lovely and noble roses and aromatic creatures.” As Paul notes in Romans 8, the creation longs and yearns for its restoration and renewal even as it groans under the burden of its disfigurement waiting for you and me to be set free from sin and death.
Now unrighteousness, imperfection, is everywhere. However, God has replaced our disfiguring slavery to sin with his righteousness, his perfection. Thus when Christ returns, righteousness, that is perfection, will be restored. You and I, who are already renewed in baptism, will be fully restored and will dwell in new heavens and a new earth where only god’s perfection will be allowed.
Eugene Peterson paraphrases verses 10-13 of 2 Peter. “Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and elements melt down that day- but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.”