Our reading this evening is from Revelation 3:7-13, read in the Common English Bible translation.
Message to Philadelphia7 “Write this to the angel of the church in Philadelphia:
These are the words of the one who is holy and true, who has the key of David. Whatever he opens, no one will shut; and whatever he shuts, no one opens. 8 I know your works. Look! I have set in front of you an open door that no one can shut. You have so little power, and yet you have kept my word and haven’t denied my name. 9 Because of this I will make the people from Satan’s synagogue (who say they are Jews and really aren’t, but are lying)—I will make them come and bow down at your feet and realize that I have loved you. 10 Because you kept my command to endure, I will keep you safe through the time of testing that is about to come over the whole world, to test those who live on earth. 11 I’m coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one takes your crown. 12 As for those who emerge victorious, I will make them pillars in the temple of my God, and they will never leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from my God. I will also write on them my own new name. 13 If you can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Those who wish can click here to find Lectio Divina suggestions, and then return for the meditation and prayer.
I'm tired today. I'm thinking of my friend Kimberly, who sings a song to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell," but whose lyrics are, "I'm tired enough to die! I'm tired enough to die!"
We'll probably, neither of us, die from tiredness. But, you get my point.
And, oh, what a wimp that makes me, since the church has been waiting.... waiting..... waiting....... for the return of Jesus for close on 2000 years. It makes my Adventian endurance (or lack thereof) seem pretty pathetic.
That word keeps coming up in our readings.... "endurance." It is something that garners praise from the writers of these ancient texts. It is something that wins a prize here... "I will keep you safe," says the writer to the First Church of the City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love, "through all this... stuff that is coming."
My friend Laurie and I were exchanging heresies the other day, and I fessed up to my Not Knowing About All That, with regard to this promised (but really late) return of Jesus. Laurie fessed up to her own heresy, and then cheerfully said, "We can have a Heretics' Club in heaven!"
Which brings me to the Open Door, since, I think that's what this is all about. The door is open.... which I take to mean, that love of God we can, none of us, earn, not even if we believe with perfect faith the very best theology of the Return of Christ. Not even if we work all day, every day from now until midnight Christmas Eve. Not even if the tree is, literally, perfect. Not even if we do a thousand acts of charity, and buy presents for all the orphans.
We cannot earn this love which is already ours, because it is already ours.
So maybe we can rest, Kimberly, and Laurie, and you, and me. Maybe we can rest up just a little, and trust... even if it doesn't get done today.... the door is still open.
"Steal Away to Jesus", African American Spiritual, Sung by Mahalia Jackson and Nat King Cole
God of the weary and downcast, let us rest in you. God of the energetic and vibrant, fill us with your refreshment. God of mystery, hold us in your care, this evening, and forevermore. Amen.