Our reading this evening is from Revelation 1:17-2:7, and we are reading from the Contemporary English Bible translation.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. But he put his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I was dead, but look! Now I’m alive forever and always. I have the keys of Death and the Grave. 19 So write down what you have seen, both the scene now before you and the things that are about to unfold after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands, here is what they mean: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Message to Ephesus
2 “Write this to the angel of the church in Ephesus:
These are the words of the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven gold lampstands: 2 I know your works, your labor, and your endurance. I also know that you don’t put up with those who are evil. You have tested those who say they are apostles but are not, and you have found them to be liars. 3 You have shown endurance and put up with a lot for my name’s sake, and you haven’t gotten tired. 4 But I have this against you: you have let go of the love you had at first. 5 So remember the high point from which you have fallen. Change your hearts and lives and do the things you did at first. If you don’t, I’m coming to you. I will move your lampstand from its place if you don’t change your hearts and lives. 6 But you have this in your favor: you hate what the Nicolaitans are doing, which I also hate. 7 If you can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. I will allow those who emerge victorious to eat from the tree of life, which is in God’s paradise.
Those who wish to continue with Lectio Divina can click here, and then return for the meditation and prayer.
The One described in last evening's passage-- he of woolly white hair, and bronze-like feet, and a face so radiant we can hardly bear to look at him-- he is sending letters. Love letters.
They must be love letters or, frankly, why bother?
The letters are going to seven churches (seven, that perfect-days-of-creation-plus-rest number).
The first church sounds so familiar. O God, I am your church, and I see myself, as if in a mirror.
We work hard. We have (we have decided) endurance. And when we see evil we name it. We call it out. We put it on Facebook, by God.
But when we are calling out evil, it is very hard to hold onto the love in our hearts. In fact, the white-woolly-haired-bronze-footed-double-edged-sword-coming-out-of-his-mouth-One says, we have lost it. We have let go of the love we had at first.
O God. We have lost love. And you have told us, You are love. And so, by horrible inference....
But you are here. We have not lost you, you reassure us again, and again. And you send us love letters, because, if they weren't love letters, frankly, why bother?
But you warn us. Without love, we die. Without love, we can look forward only to death. Without love, we cease to be the church.
And you insist that we love the people who we most revile, roll our eyes at, resist. The ones who have hurt us, the ones who have rejected us, the ones who say.
The ones who are ready to vote for _______________________________!!!!!!!!!
But love them we must. Love or death. A little like cake or death. Which shall I choose?
Which shall I choose?
O God, why is it so hard to love? Don't answer that question. Or, rather, point us to your answer-- the One who came, and who is with us, and who is coming again, coming still. Remind us, you who are the writer of love letters. Remind us of your answer, in the name of the One called Love. Amen.