As we approach the end of a calendar year, this week’s lectionary readings reference the end of time. At least, that’s what the apocalyptic readings of Daniel and Revelation seem to be about, at first blush. The Ancient One takes the throne, and Jesus arrives on the clouds. What we forget sometimes is that “apocalypse” most accurately means “unveiling.” These passages do not necessarily refer to a nebulous time in the future, but to what already exists around us, if only we are able to perceive it.
At first glance, the world may seem to be a dumpster fire, with particular sore spots related to the pandemic and equity in medical care, climate change and the disparate effects it has on impoverished communities, and tension among people of difference races, ethnicities, and nationalities. It is easy to become overwhelmed, and to pray for Jesus to come again, and quickly!
When we look a little deeper, to uncover the truths that are already here, we find evidence of God at work in the midst of all these conflicts. The dumpster fire includes at least a few flickers of the flame of the Holy Spirit. If we can roll back the veil to see what God is really doing in the world, we will find more cause for hope than for despair. This is not unlike the Sacred Pause that RevGalBlogPals is embarking on for the next few months – instead of focusing on the next task at hand, try to uncover what God is already doing and where God is already leading. When we pause for breath, we may discover new truths and new directions and new revelations of God’s presence.
This week’s Revised Common Lectionary Gospel includes a passage from Jesus’ trial immediately before his execution. It’s a little jarring to hear from Jesus at the end of his earthly life when half the world is already drowning in Christmas music and decorations, in anticipation of the arrival of Jesus as a baby. Jesus’ conversation with Pilate is included to demonstrate that he is the kind of king who answers to a higher power, not the kind who cares about earthly power. If you use this reading in worship, please consider changing the word “Jew” to “Judean.” The words are indistinguishable in Greek. The text itself tells us that the word is meant to refer to the “nation” of people who handed Jesus over. The Judeans of Jesus’ time cannot be equated with Jewish people today, and when they are, only bad things come of it.
The Lectionary also includes options from 2 Samuel and the Psalms. Which text are you focusing on for preaching this week? What are the concerns facing your community? How can you pull back the veil to show God at work in your community? Peace and blessings to you this week in your writing and worship prep.
Katya Ouchakof is enjoying a bivocational professional life, serving as a hospital chaplain and a paddlesports professional in Madison, WI (USA).
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