Sunday, April 17, 2016

Easter 4C

Revelation 7:9-17

9After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" 11And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12singing, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen."

13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?" 14I said to him, "Sir, you are the one that knows." Then he said to me, "These are they who have come out [who are (still) coming out] of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. 16They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; 17for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Easter is Fifty Days.

Easter 4 always is Good Shepherd Sunday. In this second reading from Revelation the Lamb is the Shepherd; the Shepherd is the Lamb.

Revelation is the last book in the entire canon of the bible. Revelation brings us the new creation. The city of God – the new Jerusalem. Tree of life. River of life. The one who reigns from the throne of God — who reigns from the cross.

Genesis 1 and 2 are the first books in the biblical canon. We get the original creation, a garden – not a city. Tree of life. River of life.

Revelation is not chronologically the latest book of the bible; Genesis 1 and 2 are not chronologically the earliest.


The as yet unidentified and unknown John the Revelator. Possibly written on the Roman prison island of Patmos in present-day Turkey. Author is not John the Evangelist, whose community (along with a few other resources) brought us the 4th gospel. To help discern authorship we look at internal evidence such as grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, references to people, places, events.

We're previously discussed apocalyptic; it means uncovering, unveiling, revealing—thus the book of Revelation, that the author begins by telling us it's an apocalypse.

Revelation is:

Recorded some time between 90 and 100, during the reign of Roman Caesar Domitian. Revelation shows us how empires operate; Rome was one in a long series that continues until this year 2016 with the current USA empire. Revelation is a liturgical, political, counter-imperial text, a guidebook and a map for living out our baptism into Jesus' death and resurrection as an alternative to imperial violence and death in the midst of empire. Any empire.

Revelation is not:

An indecipherable collection of strange sayings or predictions of events future to when John the Revelator recorded it. Just as with a lot of literature and with a lot of our human conversations, it includes many symbols, code words, and figures of speech.

"After this" at this start of today's text beginning at verse 9 refers to verses 4-8 and their description of the 144,000+++ tribes of Israel along with people, ethnicities, nations, languages, cultures, etc. that fulfill God's promise to Abram of faithful descendants greater in number than stars in the sky, more than grains of sand. Some of those faithful descendants include us, the church! All people are God's people with Jesus Christ as ultimate authority under the cross of Calvary. Please note these people still stand solidly on earth and have not been raptured.

Revelation is a liturgical and political text. We get "This is the Feast," the hymn of praise we sing in the liturgy today (Sarah referred us to pages 4 and 5 of the printed bulletin) and during festival seasons from Revelation 7:12. It brings us seven (the number of completion and perfection) words of praise to God and to the Lamb:
1. Blessing

2. glory

3. wisdom

4. thanksgiving

5. honor

6. power

7. might

These words make anti-imperial claims that only God is Lord. Not caesar. Not anything else or anyone else.

7:14 Not those who have come out of the mega ordeal—in the Greek they still are coming out. The church lives out its baptismal call and identity in Jesus' death and resurrection alongside the pain and suffering in the world. God in the Spirit calls and enables us to be a counter-force to the deadly violence of empire. Pastor Peg told us about Barbara Rossing referring to "Lamb Power."

7:15 the one seated on the throne will shelter (make a dwelling, booth, tent, tabernacle) us. Same word as in John 1:14 that tells us the pre-existent word became flesh and lived in our midst, literally "pitched a tent," a portable structure (¿¡ramada?!) that would go with us wherever we journeyed. Ark of the Covenant; Festival of Booths / Succoth.

Every week during the eucharistic liturgy we pray the counter imperial: "Our Father, who art in heaven... for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever." Authority, power, and glory belong to God not to Caesar not to the USA government not to Monsanto...

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