My Sunday morning women's group has been watching and discussing a series of mini-lectures on Revelation by Dr. Craig Koester, to parallel our pastor's preaching during Lent. I've come to view Revelation in a different way through these seven weeks. I think most people think "fire and brimstone," or "gloom and doom," when they think about this last book in the Bible, this myth perpetuated by popular culture, but I find it extremely comforting and hopeful: after all, the good guys win in the end.
Dr. Koester points out that the book of Revelation is not linear, and cannot be understood linearly, instead, it consists of a series of spirals. The visions of Revelation pose challenges and then bring the reader back into the presence of God, over and over again. Many of John's visions are difficult and unsettling, but these ominous visions are followed by encouraging visions of heavenly praise. Revelation begins and ends in the glorious presence of God and of the Lamb. It is no mistake that Revelation begins and ends with God and the Lamb saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." The implication is that none of that other stuff matters. Or, the other stuff only matters inasmuch as it points us back into God's presence. We know that our final destination is into God's presence. The end of time, Dr. Koester said, is not an event, but a person, God.
Last week, Ruth Ann preached to us in bumper stickers. She said all we need to know about Revelation is contained in these three statements:
1. Revelation is a letter. Revelation was written at a specific time to a specific set of people. Yes, it can inform and inspire us today, but its intended audience was the people of those seven churches in Asia, who lived and died almost 2000 years ago. I don't know that John realized that his letter would become a part of the Bible, read by millions, through the years.
2. Revelation is a book of Worship. Over and over in Revelation, we are treated to visions of heavenly worship. It's less about the battle, less about the evil, than it is about us coming back to where we belong: into the presence of God in worship.
3. Revelation is a prophecy. A prophecy, yes, but not in the way most people think of prophecy. Rather than predicting the future, laying out specific events that will happen exactly as written, this prophecy shows us how God is moving, how God operates. It's the sort of prophecy that allows us to predict, in general terms, how things are going to go. This prophecy shows us that God always triumphs over evil. Every time. For all time.
Now honestly, people, what's so scarey about that?
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Logan lost another tooth this week. No, I mean he really lost it. He went to bed with the tooth in his mouth, and when he woke up it wasn't there anymore. And no, we're not going to be looking for it (or, rather, having not found it in his bed or his brother's bed, or on the floor by the bed, we will not be looking in any other locations for the tooth). Logan wrote a nice little note:
Dear Tooth Fairy,And, the next morning, the note was gone, and there were 2 quarters and a looney (that's a Canadian dollar) in its place. I think the tooth fairy couldn't see too well in the dark...
I really lost my tooth. Sorry. Please give me money.
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I need to buy new shoes. I absolutely dread buying new shoes. I can't, for the life of me, figure out how anyone could possibly actually enjoy buying new shoes. Well, I suppose those people's feet probably fit into common sized shoes. See, the problem is, I have very wide feet. This is a good thing evolutionally, because wider feet mean better balance, but it's not so good societally. Right now I have exactly three pairs of shoes that fit me (I also have snow boots and hiking boots, so if you count those things as shoes, I have five pairs. Yes, my husband has more shoes than I do). One is a pair of black wedges, which are horribly out of style and a bit awkward for me to walk in, but they do fit, although they're beginning to look a little scruffy. Another is my black casual shoes, which I wear pretty much every day, and are pretty much falling apart. The third is a new pair of tennies. Yes, after months of searching, I finally found a pair that kind of fit me. When I brought them home from the store, my husband said to me, "do they fit?" and I said, "they'll work," and then he said, "but do they fit?" and I said, "they'll work." We repeated this a few more times. See, what my husband doesn't understand is that for me, finding a pair of shoes that actually fits is unheard of. For me buying shoes consists of a series of compromises: if I get shoes that are wide enough for my feet, they're way too long, and if I get shoes that are the right length, I can't even get my foot in them. Scott says that when I find a pair that fits, I should buy two or three pairs, and I will, definitely, if I ever find a shoe that actually fits me, I'll buy every pair in the store. Heck, I'll buy every pair in the metro area.
I've been looking for a pair of sandals for a couple of years now, and I was devastated when my old ones fell apart last summer. Yes, I actually shed a tear or two (and now you know why). I don't even bother looking in the women's section for sandals. No way are my toes going to make it anywhere near the end of the shoe, or even past the straps, even if I do happen to find a style that comes in wide sizes. Luckily, men's sandals have been trending toward the feminine lately. So I've been trying on men's sandals, and I discovered that in order for the sandal to be wide enough for my foot, I have to go up to a size 9.5. No WAY am I going to buy the same size shoe as my husband wears! My foot is two inches shorter than his is!
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I'm getting a little tired of people saying, "these days, we can't afford to be wasteful." I, for one, have never been able to afford to be wasteful. I mean, what were these people doing in the good ol' days when they could be wasteful? Buying a new car every four years as soon as they'd paid off their previous auto loan? Buying each and every new and improved gadget, even though it's obsolete by the time they get it home? Running up thousands of dollars of credit card debt because "I deserve it"? Throwing away half their dinner because they don't like leftovers? Paying for services and features they don't need or want because it's a better deal if you bundle? Running out and buying every single accessory known to man for their new hobby and then abandoning said hobby the following week? Buying shoes because it's fun? Oh yeah, right...that's exactly what they were doing, and that's exactly why now they can't afford to be wasteful. It wouldn't offend me nearly as much if they'd just drop the "these days" from that statement.
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Today is Monday of Holy week, the day that I traditionally think about Jesus going into the temple and overturning tables. I think this actually happened on the same day as the triumphal entry, which we celebrate on Palm Sunday, but today is the day I think about it. I love to think of Jesus that way. So often we view Jesus as kind of a pushover. That's not exactly the right word, but do you understand what I'm trying to say? Jesus was and is perfect. And he was always telling people to love one another and to serve one another, and that the last shall be first, and to turn the other cheek, and you kind of get the idea that he's not going to stick up for himself, and that we shouldn't stick up for ourselves either. But I love that picture of Jesus losing his temper and driving the money changers and dove sellers out of the temple. It reminds me that yes, Jesus is fully divine, and yes, Jesus is perfect, but that Jesus was also fully human. Just like me (except for the part where I'm not anywhere near perfect). Jesus faced the same fears and anxieties and temptations that we all face. If he could triumph over those, that gives me hope that I can, as well.