Tuesday, November 4, 2014

All Saints Day : Reading Revelation


Our Revelation readers: Kim, Jeremy an Rose

All Saints Day.

A children’s fire helmet. And one large bag of candy. On the steps.

The Session is in an upbeat mood after yesterday’s DOB meeting. The conversation is level headed and positive. We look at the figures. See the projected income gap for next year. And set about figuring out alternative ways to close that gap. We leave with a sense of determination. The way will be found.

Things are looking uncertain foe our read through of Revelation. But Jeremy G and Rose and Kim arrive to join me in reading. And Marsha too. I explain that the book was originally written as a letter to a besieged community. One hiding underground. From violent oppression. And that we should just listen, allow the words to flow over us.Allow ourselves to just feel them before we think and analyze. So I begin my playing the Son House version of John the Revelator. 

And then we jump in. Treading in the King James version.

A little more than hour later, we arrive at the final passage:
18For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.20He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

We take a breath. And then reflect. We think of the familiar images. That glorious passage from the Messiah…..the Hallelujah chorus:  The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever…..You can almost hear it ringing in the air. 

And the Seventh Seal…memories  of Bergman’s film.

We talk about 666, how far from some spooky, cryptic sign, it’s a statement that in a book filled with in ages of seduction, prostitution, etc., in a time when 7 was the number of perfection, it’s a way of saying that sometimes evil is nearly indistinguishable from good. We talk about references to the synagogue of satan, those who think they are Jews but are not as relating to those followers of Herod who served on behalf of the Roman Empire. And that far from being anti-Semitic, it appears only those from the 12 tribes of Israel, 12,000 from each. We talk of the four colored horses. The imagery of Rousseau’s War.That the words pour out at a fever pitch, like the author just let fly. One says that the words gallop, as a stampeding horse.

Rousseau's War

Far from being some complicated scheme to predict the future, we instead have a vivid, pulsating cry of the heart in the midst of chaos. And that sudden, fast turn to the New Jerusalem, the crystal river flowing through the streets of the city. A song of triumph in the midst of seeming destruction. It’s a voice that comes from Guernica. Berlin. Dresden. Auschwitz. San Salvador. Ground Zero. Mosul. Syria. Sudan. Gaza. And it’s the voice that rises from the Black community in the midst of slavery and Desmond Tutu declaring we have already won years before apartheid fell. Archetypal and human.

There is a sense of peace as we leave. This is our second journey through. Tomorrow when we sing holy, holy, holy in our Eucharist, we will join our voices with all those who have come through the ordeal. Around the world. And in heaven. It is one song.

We’re beginning a tradition.

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