Reflection on Revelation 1:1-18, by John G. Gibbs, PhD
We live in lake country. Because we live in lake country there is a good chance that the apocalyptic text for today can make sense to us. It is the nature of apocalyptic to disclose to us more than one level of meaning, and to present us with many images and reflections of reality.
Lakes do the same thing.
Lakes dare wooden-headed literalists to stick stubbornly only to water, snails, turtles, fish, birds, underwater plants, algae, Secchi-disk readings, and Trophic State Indexes. However important all these may be, we who live in lake country can say: “If that’s all you know about lakes, then you do not yet know our lakes.” If all you can do with a lake is take it literally, then you have never let that lake tell you all it has to tell.
Take Lake Peysensky, for instance, where Nancy and I live. Our prospect on it is mostly south and southwest. On a quiet autumn late-afternoon her smooth surface reflects instant miracles of colorful diversity that exist on lake surface no less than in the panoplied sky above its setting sun. There’s not just one lake shore filled with lavenders, reds, and yellows, but two. Our lake gives back to us a whole second sky, and thereby awakens our imaginations until we begin to behold a heaven here below. From the lake we get a new meaning for the petition in the Lord’s Prayer: “on earth as in heaven.” Any other lake presents as many images and reflections of reality, for those who have eyes to see.
The opening chapters of the book of Revelation set before us two figures: “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness” exalted above; and here below, the whole Church represented by seven congregations, the number seven symbolizing “the whole thing.” John’s letters to these seven congregations propose and urge that the whole Church on earth truly reflect the one incomparably faithful Witness. Here below on the surface of space/time the pattern of our life together begins to reflect the will of God being done on earth as in heaven.
The Church cannot live willy-nilly, nor grow like Topsy. There’s a pattern for our life together, and that is the character of “the faithful and true witness” (3:14). If Jesus Christ is “the beginning of creation” (3:14), then the Church lives on earth as a people that is responsible for the environment that God created. If Jesus Christ is “the first born of the dead,” then the Church lives like wide-awake participants in the new creation, rather than like dead people who only “have a name of being alive” (3:1-3). If Jesus Christ, who ruled by being the Servant of all, is “the ruler of the kings of the earth,” then the Church learns from that faithful Witness how to govern, how to administer its own affairs, and how to model a management lifestyle that serves people and does not tyrannize them.
Christ the King Sunday: The priesthood of all believers means that we are “priests” of all creation, by Dennis Ormseth
Excerpt: The long awaited king comes “with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail” (Revelation 1:7). With the texts for the Festival Sunday of Christ the King, the church hears a summation of the gospel of the lectionary narrative of Year B, and a matching mandate for its life under his kingship. Summation and mandate together bring our reflections on care of creation in Year B to an appropriate conclusion with reflections on the nature of Christ’s dominion and the human vocation.