I’m writing this to you from a difficult moment in the past. Creating a book like Disciplines takes time, and I’m writing in the United States in 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, with a difficult election still to come. I have no idea how these crises affected you; but I know this week’s scriptures shed light on them. May what you’ve learned since 2020 also shed light on these reflections.
Revelation begins magnificently with greetings from the One “who is and who was and who is to come” and from “the Alpha and the Omega.” We are immediately in the framework of eternity, where the crises and triumphs, kindnesses and injustices, even the lives and deaths of earth seem insignificant. Yet they are significant, for we are also greeted by “Jesus Christ, . . . the firstborn of the dead, . . . who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood.” The Eternal One took notice of our wrongs and tragedies and sent us a Redeemer to share in them and overcome them, to overcome even death itself.
I don’t know who comes to your mind when you think of resurrection and eternal life. I know there may well be someone special. When we celebrate the feast of Easter with flowers and trumpets and glorious hymns, there may be someone in particular whom you long to think of sharing life with the risen Christ. It may be someone lost to COVID-19, to an act of violence, or just to the hardships and hazards of life on earth. I invite you to hold that someone in your heart and think of Jesus reaching out his wounded yet warm hand to them.
Alpha and Omega, we are grateful beyond words that you took notice of us in our needs and sorrows, sent Jesus to share them with us, and in him gave us life and victory over death. Amen.
After the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples are unable to remain silent. They go to the Temple to proclaim the gospel. Some people receive the message, while others do not. This causes turmoil within the community, but the apostles stand firm in their testimony, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Psalm 150 might be on the lips of those early apostles. Everything that has breath should praise the Lord! The author of Revelation recounts a vision that he receives from the risen Jesus Christ, who one day will return as Lord of all nations. In John we learn more about the source of the confidence of the apostles. They have experienced Jesus in the flesh, and this experience gives power to their proclamation of the reality of his resurrection.
Read Acts 5:27-32. When has your faith compelled you to rise up, stand up, or kneel down in obedience to God rather than earthly authorities?
Read Psalm 150. When have you praised God with great celebration? When have you praised God with quiet service to creation?
Read Revelation 1:4-8. How do you see peace arising out of violence in the Bible and in the world around you?
Read John 20:19-31. How have your experiences of witnessing violence or the results of violence helped you to understand that violence does not have the last word?
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