Yr B ~ Reign of Christ ~ Revelation 1:4b-8
I know that some folks start to squirm in their seats as soon as I say that someone (anyone) is your king. Some don’t like the patriarchal overtones. Some don’t like the triumphalist sense it can bring. But I think we balk at it simply because we don’t like to be ruled. We don’t like to be subjects.
Perhaps, instead, we might focus not so much on the ‘royal person’ but on their realm of influence. What does a king/queen/regent do? They reign. They act. They move. They influence. They command (and we all know what Jesus commands, right? – Jesus commands us to love, love, love!). The Reign of Christ – which is what today’s called in the liturgical calendar – is another way of saying the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven. It’s the space, the time, the umbrella of authority under which we stand, the canvass upon which our lives are painted, the arena in which our ‘game’ is played. So, will we focus today on the influencer, or their influence? Yes! Both.
Our text for today comes from the book of Revelation. This is a wonderful but tricky book. It has acquired a really negative reputation in many churches because it seems so weird, and violent, and frightening. Even Martin Luther himself would have preferred that it be excised from the bible, and several heavy duty theologians refused to write commentaries on it. Pity. It’s really quite wonderful.
The problem is we’ve never done a good job of teaching people how to read it – and you really do have to read it with a totally different lens than you’re used to. It’s like analyzing a dream – and you know how logical and straightforward dreams are!
Or maybe it’s like a first century science fiction movie – with lots of creatures and special effects.
Or…imagine yourself sitting in a Broadway theatre, and a single actor is standing centre stage giving a tour de force performance of a fantastically wild tale as a one-person show. That’s how this book was likely shared with it’s first audiences – as a story-telling performance. Underneath it all is a very strong message about God, and Jesus, and faith. Our challenge is that we get lost in the flash and miss the substance. (So it is with life too!)
This book was meant to be performed, not dissected – and it was meant to be heard and experienced as a whole, not in little bite-sized pieces that out of context can be wildly misinterpreted.
So, let’s start dissecting! (lol)
Today’s reading is all about influencers and their influence.
And it challenges us think hard about how the influencers influence us!
Revelation 1:4-5 Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
We begin with the influencers. The One who is and who was and who is to come. That’s God – who is (present), who was (past), and who is to come (future). God is not just the God of history; God is also the God of right here and right now, and yet there is also a promise that God isn’t done yet – there’s more yet to come. God was, is, and will be. Our main influencer is omni-present – always has been, always will be.
The other influencer is the Christ who taught, transformed, and reigned. Or is that teaches, transforms, and reigns? Or both? Christ the faithful witness (teacher, taught, still teaching) – Christ the firstborn of the dead (a resurrection reference, he was raised, he is risen, he was transformed and he still transforms) – and Christ the ruler of the kings of the earth (well, he wasn’t literally back then, but then again he was, because he was stronger than the human empires that stood against him and tried to make him irrelevant – and even today his teaching, life, and example move people to confront empire).
These are the players in our Broadway show. The influencers. And what do we know about them?
They are timeless, present, and not yet finished influencing.
What do these influencers do? How do they influence our lives?
Revelation 1:5-6 To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Ok, what has Jesus done for us? Don’t get lost in troublesome words.
Look at the verbs!
Jesus loves, frees, and makes. Loves us – that’s easy to understand.
Frees us from our sins by his blood. Yeah, yeah, I know. That one has tons of baggage. Let me work with it for a minute to see if this helps. read on