“The end is not an event but a person.” ~G.B. Caird
“I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” ~Revelation 22:13
It’s always the end of the world somewhere for someone. Probably your own world has come crashing down in apocalyptic fashion a time or two. We can’t turn back time, nor skip ahead to a stage when it might hurt less. Instead, we must wait and watch and keep our ears open. When the world has ended, hope must – and will – come from the outside.
Seven very different churches are addressed in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation. In the Bible, seven always means something more than seven. We should go ahead and include Bethesda Lutheran, Eugene among the addressees. So what does the Bible’s chaotic caboose have to say to you and me in 2019? (Ah, we’re so close to 2020 vision!)
I’ll give you a clue that gets overlooked by all the end-times billboards, blogs, and book deals. The first three words of Revelation tell you exactly what you need to know: Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ = “[An] Apocalypse [of] Jesus Christ.”
Apocalypse does not mean destruction; it means revelation or uncovering. The Book of Revelation is a visionary writing that uncovers Jesus Christ. It is written to reveal Christ, to preach Christ, to inspire worship of Christ. It is written to comfort, convict, and cheer the saints of the seven (million) churches. It is not written as an overlay with which to read the newspaper headlines and gain a following. It is certainly not written to paint a proud smile on our faces as we consider the coming day when those people get what’s
coming to them. It reveals Christ the lamb who was slain to take away the sins of the world. Revelation delivers the news of Christ and his victory over sin, death, and the devil. It does not sequester victorious saints into a rapture-ready isolation from the world. Instead, we are given to pray “Come Lord Jesus!” as we move further into the world as bearers of Christ’s victorious news.
Dear friends, I assure you, Christ will be faithful and come to us in 2019 through his Word, Sacraments, Christian friendship, and in the faces of the least of these. Perhaps, in the Father’s good time, Christ will come also to our eyes this year. It is not for us to know, but to be watchful. Please join me on Sunday mornings this winter, in the Community Center, as we explore Revelation through visual media, Bible study, and discussion.