With All the Company of Heaven - Reflections - 4-6-16

 Texts for Sunday 
 3rd Sunday of Easter

 Acts 9:1-20
 Psalm 30
 Revelation 5:11-14
 John 21:1-19

 Sometimes during worship my mind carries me to a different time and place - no, not during the sermon. Sometimes, very early in the worship service, I stand in that time which is no-time. I stand at The Feast. I stand with myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands as we sing “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev.5:12)

That is how I imagine eternity ...lots of singing, feasting, and general hurrahs for God/Jesus…. And when I say eternity, I do mean this moment …as well as later…. that “already but not yet” state we live in as Jesus’ followers (see Alpha and Omega from last week). 

The second reading this week continues in the book of Revelation. The assigned reading for this week skipped a bit from the reading last week; skipped past announcements to “the seven churches” - Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. And past chapter 4 which gives a peek into an open door (eternity?).  

What do we see through that door? Worship…lots of worship with lots of lauds and adoration. There is a responsive singing back and forth between spectacular living creatures and 24 elders on thrones that sit before “something like a sea of glass, like crystal”.

So Revelation tells us that God has our backs (or in urban vocabulary “got your six”). And how do we respond? We worship. Big time.

In chapter 5, in the 10 verses before our text, a question booms out over the loud speaker system “Who is worthy to open the scroll?” Apparently no one. So our author weeps bitterly that the scroll cannot be opened. But then one of the 24 elders gathered around the throne (who has cast his or her golden crown around the glassy sea) turns to the author and says “The Lion of Judah has conquered. The Lion of Judah can open it”.  

That is a bit of a jaw dropper. Through all the Gospels, we have heard that Jesus is the Messiah, but not THAT Messiah. Not the one who is going to squash Rome and save the day through a military victory – that is what the Lion of the tribe of Judah is supposed to do.   I can imagine John’s little community sitting in the middle of major persecution saying “What?” when this Revelation is read to them.  "Is that Lion still to come??"

Yes and no.  The one who steps forward to open the scroll is the Lamb who was slaughtered. The Lion is the Lamb. The Messiah is the one who suffered and died. The Worthy One is the one who conquered death by dying. 

Did you know that the word “worship” is related to the word “worth”?  Worship is worth-ship (I learned that in confirmation class). We proclaim the worth of the Worthy One. We sing it at the top of our voice. We stand between archangels and seraphs and join in the chorus. 
....maybe an archangel?

And, as we hear in the Easter season:
…And so, with Mary Magdalene and Peter and all the witnesses of the resurrection,
with earth and sea and all their creatures,
and with angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim,
we praise your name and join their unending hymn…

Look for me joining the unending hymn between a sea turtle and a seraph…. I moved over a spot. 

How do you imagine or visualize eternal life with God?

Ponder the words sung by the heavenly chorus in praise of the Lamb, verses 12-13.  
Ask: What does this mean for me?

Check out the G.I.F.T. post for this Sunday, April 10, for more ways to reflect on these texts. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts. 
Please use the comment section below (all the way down past the related posts).

Credit goes to the photographers of Pixabay.com for all the wonderful pictures here.

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245