Sunday’s sermon at DPUMC included a paraphrase of the Revelation to John. Here is the text of that letter with scripture references.
“The Revelation was not written without tears; neither without tears will it be understood.”John Wesley, Notes on the New Testament
Don’t give up. I know things are difficult but do not be afraid. All of this present moment, all that ever was, and all that will be is held in God’s hands. So be a light in the darkness and look to Jesus as your guide.
Do not fear death even when it seems the world is trying to kill you. It is the way of the world to destroy what it does not understand. And cannot control. But Christ died and is now alive. And Christ holds the keys to death and the grave. Don’t give up, for we who follow Christ will not only survive but have the glory of abundant life; Life now and for eternity.
I know it’s hard. To those who are uncertain, do not waiver. Remain firm in the commitment you made at your baptism. Confess Jesus as you lord and recognize no other. Resist evil, injustice, and oppression, wherever you find them. This is the way that leads to life.
To those who are firm in the faith, blessings to you; continue in this hope, for it will give you the strength to endure any challenges. I know some of you are deeply challenged because you will not bow to the empire around you. You know that even if you die, you will still be greatly rewarded.
Do not trust in earthly leaders or wealth. Pray for those who do, and pray for those who persecute you. For Christ is king, and when he returns, he will bring justice. He will set right all that is broken.
When Christ returns, he will gather all God’s children. From every corner of the world, he will gather us. Not just a tribe or a generation but an innumerable multitude. He calls us out of hardship even now to the waters of baptism. Our Good Shepherd leads us to life-giving water.
Church, we need the shepherd and the water of life for the world is a broken place, and brokenness leads to death. Fires often rage and destroy. Volcanoes create but also kill. Sea creatures and ships are harmed by storms and pollution. Mosquitoes, roaches, rats, scorpions, and all manner of pests plague people around the world. And when these things happen, people do not turn to God. They put their trust in idols; in gold and silver, bronze, stone, and wood. In pseudoscience, and violence, drugs and pleasure, and hoarding treasure.
But God’s promises remain true. God’s grace that has flowed from Creation, from the times of Eden and Noah rolls across time and space. In every age, God sends servants to proclaim the good news. And the good of God shall come to each of us. The Good News is both sweet and hard to swallow. And it is ours to proclaim.
Proclaim everywhere the good news that Jesus Christ is Lord; that no trial or tribulation can separate people from his love. Proclaim that God who created the world, is setting it right.
Proclaim it. And be fully aware of what it may cost you. When you tell the truth to Emperors and governors, to Queens and lords, to barons and power brokers, presidents and moguls, they will not thank you for it. They will come against you. They will mock and kill true prophets.
But even death cannot silence the word of God, and the spirit of God will keep raising us up again and again.
For the church has a spirit of life. Each of her generations gives birth to the next. When violence and chaos rage, they cannot harm her, for God prepares a refuge for her. When the church is in the wilderness, she is not lost. The wilderness is where God cares for her: The wilderness is where she gives birth to new things.
Chaos and brokenness will take many forms. From land and sea, from every corner, they come in every era and raise up systems, empires, and nations. Every time they seem powerful, monstrously great.
Beware where you put your allegiance Church. You can only serve one master. You can only worship one Lord. What you follow, you things you put your trust in, it marks you. It marks your words, your actions, your very being. Do not be marked by greed or hate or any of the ways of this world, for they bring suffering. Instead, let faithful endurance be the seal on your life.
A heart for god yields a harvest of glory. But when we sow violence and vice, we reap suffering and death. Chaos carries the seed of its own destruction. Selfishness festers like a disease. Greed leads to waste and sickness. Anger ignites wrath, and hatred. False prophets incite idolatry and war. Together they stir up plagues that shake the foundations of everything humans build.
This is how empires full. They consume themselves with vice, and when they are gone, they leave behind desolation. But the powers of this world won’t last forever. Yet the steadfast love (hessed) of God endures. God works salvation. God holds all true power and glory. Christ will always show up to restore the people and banish the doubt and chaos that threaten them.
Don’t give up Church. In the end, all shall be well. So if things are unwell in these times, it is not the end. God is with us now. God desires to dwell with us fully. To dry our eyes and heal our hurts. To set aside forever mourning and pain and sorrow.
In the end, it will be like the beginning. The gates will be thrown open to all. The city and the garden will be one. The fruit of life will nourish all, and the river of life will flow everywhere. And then all that will be left is to worship.
Live that life of worship now. Christ is coming very soon. And Christ is already here. The Spirit of the Lord is with us now. Don’t give up. Yes, right now is difficult. You don’t have to pretend that here and now is perfect. It isn’t. But here and now looks very different when seen through the lens of eternity. Through darkness and chaos threaten, Christ has the final authority. Jesus will not fail you and will not let you fall. These words have been trustworthy and true from the beginning of time till now. They will be true until the end. Don’t give up.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be will all.