Scholars call the book of Revelation a work of apocalyptic literature. It is not the genre of zombie wastelands but—from the Greek—the genre of “uncovering.” Revelation works to reveal the truth about the Roman Empire for an audience in Asia Minor. What everything ultimately comes down to, the author explains with symbolic language, is a choice between empire and God. You cannot serve both. And there are real, dire consequences for supporting an empire that encourages hierarchy, violence, and corruption.
However, today’s passage suggests that God’s love might just be enough in the end. While other biblical texts written in different contexts foretell the demise of the nations (see Isaiah 17:13-14; Jeremiah 25:3-32; Joel 3:2, 10-19), Revelation 21 and 22 promise healing and reconciliation. Ultimately God’s grace overwhelms not just death but the sin that causes it. Perhaps we all have a place in God’s “book of life.”
Whereas Psalm 67 prays for God’s radiance in order for Israel to minister to the nations, everyone in the New Jerusalem gets to see the face of Yahweh and bask in its light. However, as our other passages this week have shown, this promise of ultimate unity and fulfillment should not make us complacent. We have work to do.
In life after Easter we must somehow hold together the muddled mass of grace-filled blessings and calls for action. And so we wait and work and learn from the Spirit as we hold on to this tension. All the while we bask in the light of God’s presence with Yahweh’s love written on our foreheads like name tags, the brilliance of God’s blessing radiating from us for all to see.
Revealing God, reconciliation is possible in you. Help us to hold on to this hope and to put it into action with your Holy Spirit’s presence and power. Amen.
As we near the end of our Easter celebration, we begin to wonder: What do we do when the party is over? God meets us in this place of uncertainty by offering transformative blessings through this week’s readings—a word that grounds us in our God-given identity while calling us to a greater purpose in the world. This divine mystery asks us to hold in tension the grace of God, who gives us gifts we do not earn, and the call of God toward action. Psalm 67 bestows on us the blessing and call of God’s radiance. John reminds us of the blessing of peace and the call of integrity. The conversion of Lydia in Acts invites us to create space for mysterious interplay between the divine and human action. Revelation reminds us of the blessing of life and reconciliation. Holding all these things is made possible through the Holy Spirit, who plays a prominent role in many of the readings this week.
Read Psalm 67. How do I radiate the blessing of God? How do I share this light and experience the brilliance of others?
Read John 14:23-29. Think of a time when you were able to hold peace and pain together. How did you recognize the Spirit’s presence with you?
Read Acts 16:9-15. What does it mean to you to be sent by the Holy Spirit?
Read Revelation 22:1-5. How do you experience the blessing of living water? Who do you believe is beyond saving? How do you think of them in light of the blessing of reconciliation promised in Revelation 21 and 22?
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