Last summer we selected twelve scriptures that guide our understanding of the Bible and the life of faith. The scriptures were the basis of our summer worship series and continue to be colorfully displayed in the church foyer and on our website. But since the Bible isn’t all love and peace, we also named “difficult passages” which seem to either confuse or contradict our dearest values. Last October we had four weeks to focus on two of those themes: the subjugation of women, and violence.
One of the difficult passages frequently mentioned that we didn’t address was Revelation. Yes, the entire book of Revelation. But do not fear…this October will be a continuation of the difficult passages series, with the whole month dedicated to Revelation. Like the previous series, each service will include a brief reflection/response after the sermon from a congregational member.
This Sunday we’ll worship up at Camp Luz, so the next time we’re in our own building the apocalypse will be upon us. Should give you plenty of time to do a homework assignment: read the book! For parents, depending on the temperament of your child, Revelation may or may not make for good bedtime reading.
Below is a summary of the weekly themes, along with who will be giving the responses.
Week 1, October 4 | Seeing and hearing
Introducing Revelation as an apocalypse, a revealing, a certain way of seeing and hearing. Noting the many times John mentions “I heard,” “I looked,” “I saw.” He sees things one usually does not see when simply looking at the appearance of things. Noting how often John references Hebrew Scriptures, as if looking through the eyes of Daniel, the Psalmist, Isaiah, and ultimately, Christ. Who/what we let in our consciousness affects how we see…. This is also World Communion Sunday, which we’ll observe.
Respondent: Becca L will speak about Revelation through the eyes and ears of an artist.
Week 2, October 11 | The Lamb and the Beast
We’ll draw on these two motifs of Revelation, the Lamb and the Beast, to highlight the political/economic theology of Revelation and the place of nonviolence. We’ll also wrestle with some with the violent imagery. Believe it or not, contemporary Anabaptists have found in Revelation a strong message of nonviolent redemption, challenging us to give our ultimate allegiance to the Lamb and not the Beast.
Respondent: John M will speak about his experience serving in state government and how his faith informs this.
Week 3 October 18 | The tree of life
The tree of life appears at the beginning of Genesis (and thus the beginning of the Bible) and the end of Revelation (and thus the end of the Bible). The tree of life will also look large visually over our worship space in October. If this tree is the biblical bookends, surrounding the contents with a big literary hug, what does that say about the big picture message and trajectory? Revelation says: “and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” Revelation ends somewhat unresolved, with the offer for healing, and there still being those “outside the gates” who haven’t yet come in. We’ll wrestle with notions of heaven and hell. We’ll also have a healing service, offering anointing with oil. Especially welcome are those seeking healing from fear-based religion.
Respondent: Dave D will speak about what his studies of the insect world have taught him about the tree of life and healing.
Week 4, October 25 | Apocalyptic
John K will be a guest preacher. He is a New Testament professor at MTSO and has studied extensively with the Dead Sea Scrolls and Jewish apocalyptic literature around the time of Revelation. He’ll use Revelation 21 as a launching point for unpacking what the language of apocalypse might have to say to us today.
Respondent: Ryan S will speak about how his own academic studies of the Bible have influenced his living faith.
This is going to be fun!