What does the book of Revelation say? (part 1)

Ted Grimsrud

[For the past two years, one of the projects I have been working on is an updated take on the book of Revelation. I have preached a series of sermons at Shalom Mennonite Congregation that is nearing its completion. The next step (between November and next July) will be to expand the sermons by thinking more about how Revelation directly speaks to our present day, especially for those of us living in the United States. I hope to have at least one book that results from this work. As preparation for the sermon finale November 17, I will put up a series of posts that highlight the main points of each sermon. I have been writing on Revelation off and on for a long time. This time through is reinforcing much of what I have seen before, but with some new insights that help me to see Revelation as even more helpful and radical than I had perceived earlier.]

1. The Twenty-First Century According to Revelation (Introduction)

What an interesting time to think about the Book of Revelation. Contrary to Revelation’s cultured despisers, and contrary to the Left Behinders, and contrary to the timid and fearful people in the pew who simply think Revelation is too scary and confusing to be worth paying attention to—I believe that Revelation provides extraordinary insights for those of us who want to respond creatively (and peaceably) to the spiral of violence all too apparent in our world right now.

In this introductory post, I propose one element of Revelation to be especially relevant: Revelation’s vision of worship. I have boiled Revelation down to six short paragraphs. Read them now and imagine how Revelation might speak to our violent world.

Revelation in six paragraphs

The revelation of Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, firstborn of the dead, and ruler of the kings of the earth. To the church at Philadelphia, “I know you have little power, yet you have kept my word and not denied my name. Because of your steadfast endurance, I will make you a pillar in God’s temple.” And to the church at Laodicea, “You say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing. You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”

I saw the right hand of the one seated on the throne holding a scroll. I began to weep because no one could open this scroll. But I was told, do not weep, the Lion of the tribe of Judah can open the scroll. Then I saw a Lamb standing as if it had been slain. He went and took the scroll from the one who was seated on the throne. The creatures and multitudes from all the nations cry out: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.” Continue reading “What does the book of Revelation say? (part 1)”