I will begin with a confession. I love Revelation! Many of my colleagues stay as far away from this book as they can get because it’s weird and fantastic and, well, unbelievable. It is all of these things, but it’s also powerful and imaginative and filled with the Holy Spirit. As we enter into the sixth week of Eastertide, don’t we all need a power boost?
Finding a common theme in the texts this week took some thought. I’m distracted by many, many things. There are the usual church activities and trying to squeeze things in before so many scatter for the summer months. It was the first anniversary of my mother’s death and I braced myself for feelings and thoughts that didn’t show up on schedule. Prince’s death flooded my Minneapolis congregation with shared grief and unifying memories. I’m preparing for a writing week and trying to get coverage lined up, liturgy written, and figuring out how to honor and intern who has been with the congregation for four years who is leaving in a couple of weeks. Throw in continued conversations on racism and the anticipated but strong resistance to that. Now add on-going and crisis-based pastoral care needs and distraction comes as no surprise.
Instead of resisting, I let myself fall into power and wonder of the Revelation text before venturing into the others. I can see that beautiful city of crystal and ever-flowing river of life. And I want to reach out and grab one of those leaves that would bring healing to the nations. I so desperately want to journey to this city and bring the whole world along. What will get us there?
The answer lies, at least in part, in the other texts. In Acts we read of Paul’s vision of his call to Macedonia. He responds and the result is both in offering and receiving hospitality outside of the expected people and places. Some lovely, feminine purple cloth anyone?
From the hospitality of Lydia we move through the words of the psalmist who reminds us that blessings and the ability to be a blessing to others comes from God. Real power flows through us by the grace of God and we should respond with praise. This is holy hospitality at its best.
Then, of course, we get to Revelation which is where I started. I can’t help but wonder if we who embody Christ now are not supposed to be the River of Life and the leaves that offer healing through all the seasons. To offer a place of respite, healing, and radical hospitality to any and all who are in need when so many places in the world give just the opposite would be a huge step toward healing the nations, wouldn’t it?
The familiar words of John 14 breathe life into this possibility of such extravagant hospitality. Jesus breathed on the disciples the very breath of God. I recently read somewhere that every person in their lifetime breathes in at least one particle of air that Jesus breathed. There’s something profoundly unifying, humbling, and encouraging in that statement. We are all connected by the breath of God, a breath that saturates our lives with love. How can we not share as freely as we have been shared with?
Or, if you’re going with John 5 and the man at the pool of Bethzatha, the model for healing is evident here, too. Jesus met the man and assumed nothing. Instead he asked the man if he wanted to be made well. Is it not a mark of hospitality to ask what is wanted? Sometimes just the fact that question is asked and the answer is heard brings a tremendous amount of healing.
I read these texts and hear an invitation to a truly holy hospitality that would bring healing to the nations. What do you hear? Where is the Spirit guiding you this week? Please join in the conversation so we can walk this journey together.
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