Soon and very soon. “Look! He is coming with the clouds.” Not long ago, I cooked up a series on the book of Revelation, going to people’s homes in various neighborhoods around the city to gather with people who lived in those areas to eat and to study. I called it “House Calls: Appetizers and the Apocalypse.” I didn’t know whether people would be interested, but more than a hundred showed up altogether. Maybe the appetizers drew them: lake of fire nachos and Babylon blintzes. Still, most people expressed curiosity about this strange, final book of the Bible. How can we interpret it? Does it have any meaning for us today?
By reading Revelation we learn that John of Patmos is deeply disturbed about the world as it is. Power and oppression hold sway. Faith is challenged; rights are trampled. Following Jesus and living a life of love and justice can get you into big trouble. In other words, it’s a time and a situation not dissimilar from our own. We know that our world is far from the way of Jesus, far from the reign of God.
Jesus is coming! That is the promise. But when can we expect the return of Christ in glory? Soon. Soon and very soon.
Jesus is coming! Beginning next week, the first Sunday of Advent, my faith community will sing the South African song, “Freedom Is Coming”: “Jesus is coming, O yes I know.” We will pray, in the words of Revelation, the penultimate verse of the whole Bible, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20). And meanwhile, we’ll bear faithful witness to “the Alpha and the Omega,” who circumscribes our living with the holy.
Lord, your kingdom come. Your will be done. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Second Samuel records the final words of David. David takes comfort in the covenant that God has made with his family, which must be continued by kings who will honor God and rule justly. The psalmist sings of this same covenant with David’s family and the same necessity to follow God’s decrees in order to rule well. Revelation opens with a vision of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant, the King to rule over all kings for all time. Many expected Jesus to set up a political kingdom. Yet in John, Jesus tells Pilate that his kingdom is not an earthly one. This week let us thank God that the kingdom is based not on the exercise of power but on Jesus’ example of serving others.
• Read 2 Samuel 23:1-7. Upon your deathbed, what would you like your last words to be?
• Read Psalm 132. What is your vision of Paradise? Who will be seated around your table?
• Read Revelation 1:4b-8. How do you bear faithful witness to “the Alpha and the Omega”?
• Read John 18:33-37. To whom do you pledge allegiance? To whom do you give lip service?
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