The Book of Revelation is one of the most misunderstood books of the Bible. John, the book’s author, has a vision, an apocalyptic prophecy, that he is instructed to write down and send to the seven churches in the Roman province of Asia. And his vision is a doozy, friends! For anyone who has attempted to read it, you know the symbolism is rich, and meaning is layered upon meaning.
The misunderstanding comes, however, when we superimpose our modern day understanding of The Apocalypse upon ancient apocalyptic writing. For when many of us hear the word “apocalypse,” we imagine the end of times, or scenes from TV shows and movies like The Walking Dead or Mad Max; the word becomes synonymous with death and the destruction of the world as we know it. However, in Greek, the word apocalypse means to uncover, reveal, lay bare, or disclose.
Over the last 18 months, as human beings across the globe have struggled through the COVID pandemic, I have heard many make claims that the End of Times are upon us, that the Apocalypse is near, that the Day of Judgement has finally arrived. I have heard religious and political leaders assert that John’s apocalyptic prophecy, his vision, is being played out in our time! But, what if instead of focusing on the commercialization of the Apocalypse, we reflect on the true meaning of the word?
John’s vision was one of struggle, destruction, and the death of what was “known” to God’s people. But that is not where John’s vision ends. In Revelation 21:5 he writes of a loud voice from a throne saying:
“See, the home of God is among mortals. God will dwell with them; they will be God’s peoples. God will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And then the voice proclaims: “See, I am making all things new.”
As we kick off a new program year at Asylum Hill Congregational Church, I invite each of you to explore with us what is being uncovered in these times, what God is revealing to us as individuals and as a community of faith in 2021 and beyond. I am so excited for all that is to come! Your pastors, church staff, and lay leaders have been hard at work planning a wonderful year. Let us go forth discovering what God has in mind with the proclamation:
See! I am making all things new!
I look forward to connecting with you on Homecoming Sunday, September 12, at 10:00am. If you need any more reasons to join us (either in person or virtually), let me give you some teasers:
- An upbeat & energetic jazz band will provide special music
- Our choir will be offering two gifts of music
- Our Early Life Ministry Team will debut Faith Lab – a new program for children & teens
- We will unveil and dedicate a new art installation in the sanctuary [hint: look up]
- We will hear more about AHCC 2024, with details on how you can get involved
- And for those who will be with us in person, after worship we will gather on the front lawn for fellowship, music, ice cream (Capital Ice Cream) and donuts (Dudes Donuts). Yum!
Beloveds, may the love, grace, and peace of our God, which surpasses all human understanding, be with you today and in the days to come. And may this next program year deepen and strengthen your connection to self, to one another, to AHCC, and to the Divine!
Rev. Erica Thompson
Senior Minister, Asylum Hill Congregational Church