Consolation and Patience — Joy of Advent

Scripture Focus: Revelation 6.10-11
10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been. 

Reflection: Consolation and Patience — Joy of Advent
By John Tillman

As Revelation’s seals open, the consequences of sin ride out upon the earth in a predictable sequence. Each apocalyptic rider is a natural, logical next step following the previous judgment.

The prideful rider seeking conquest is followed by war and the bloodshed of the sword. The sword of war does not bring victory or peace, but famine and scarcity. Scarcity and famine are followed by death and “hades.” Destruction, want, and chaos result. The darkness that precedes the light of Christ’s coming falls.

For centuries, scholars have debated whether these “seals” were opened in John’s day or our day, or whether they were to be opened at some point in the future. It is also possible that these prophecies, like many in scripture, have multiple fulfillments. This means that they may refer to something in the author’s or readers’ immediate future or present, while simultaneously referring to events in our time or in centuries to come.

If the greatest minds of Christendom have pondered these texts for two millennia without consensus, then perhaps certainty is not their purpose. So, if Revelation’s purpose is not to give us certainty, what is it to give us? Well, humbly admitting I could be wrong, I think the answer is probably twofold. Revelation intends to keep us watchful. Revelation intends to drive us to God, through the scriptures. 

Advent is a rehearsal for Christ’s second Advent. Darkening days (in the Northern Hemisphere) symbolize darkening, increasingly sinful times. We long for light, seeking joy to end our anguish. In John’s vision of Heaven, the long, languishing wait for justice carries over after death. Those “slain because of the Word of God” are comforted, yet still wait, crying for justice.

Like those “under the altar” we are comforted in our waiting and suffering. We seek and receive consolation from God himself. Whether the seals are in our past or future, Jesus is coming soon for us, either at the hour of our death or the hour of his appearing. Christ’s coming will be joyful for some and tragic for others. We should be watchful for him and take every opportunity to share him with others. The very reason for Christ’s delay is that more may be saved. The greater number of people we bring with us, the greater our joy will be.

With whom will you share the joyful news of Christ’s coming?

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord; let all flesh bless his holy Name for ever and ever.. — Psalm 145.22

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 17 (Listen – 2:48)
Revelation 6 (Listen – 3:12)

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Read more about The Endurance of Hope :: Love of Advent
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Revelation of Love :: Love of Advent

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Scripture Focus: Revelation 4.1
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here…”

Reflection: Revelation of Love :: Love of Advent
By John Tillman

Revelation turns attention to Christ’s second Advent for which the season of Advent is designed to prepare us. In Revelation, we see through John’s eyes into Heaven and into a future that is both made already and in the making. 

Too often, I remember being terrified by ministers and laypeople teaching or preaching Revelation from the viewpoint of fear. These well-meaning souls leaned into the horrors of being left behind and doubled down on the troubling imagery of the tribulation, hoping, I think, to scare us spiritually straight. The fear of God, properly taught and understood is biblical and is part of learning about God. But fear-based teaching is doomed to fail. Fear, as a dominant motivation leads only to bad places. Decisions dominated by fear lead to selfish evil. Churches dominated by fear sanctify hatred. Governments dominated by fear commit atrocities. 

Ultimately, fear is not what Revelation is about. It is about love. Jesus starts his Revelation of the future to John by saying, “Come up here,” and those three words are a summary of the message of the book. The story of Revelation is a promise that none of God’s children will be left behind. All God’s children will come home. (”All God’s children” except those who refuse to. As C.S. Lewis said and we have often quoted, “the doors of Hell are locked on the inside.”)

No matter the evil forces, evil governments, spiritual powers, or societal pressures that grasp at us or stand in our way, we who answer Christ’s call will go home to Heaven. Revelation is the story of all of the obstacles to our homecoming being systematically unlocked, opened up, or destroyed—including the ones we built ourselves. Christ’s apocalyptic second Advent is about releasing God’s love and about releasing us to be received by God’s love.

Through Revelation, we can imagine three Advents. The first is that of the babe in the manger. It is quiet, humble, marked with beauty, and harried by danger. The second is that of the all-conquering king. It is loud, triumphant, marked with power, and restoration of justice. The third is not Christ’s advent but ours. It is our advent to the Kingdom of God as his lost children returned. It is celebratory and joyous and marked with tears, embraces, and laughter.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Of the Baptizer, scripture says: “A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to wonder whether John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptize you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than me, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ And he proclaimed the good news to the people with many other exhortations too.” — Luke 3.15-18

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 14-15 (Listen -5:49)
Revelation 4 (Listen -2:09)

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 16 (Listen -2:51) Revelation 5 (Listen -2:39)
2 Chronicles 17 (Listen -2:48) Revelation 6 (Listen -3:12)

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We fail to realize how his identity affects ours and how our identity in Christ should affect the way that we treat others in his name.

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