During the Season of Easter - come and explore the Book of Revelation. Don't avoid this last book of the Bible out of fear or discomfort - our ignorance of it could leave us easily swayed by others who "know" what the book means today. I don't have any secret knowledge - but I'd like to offer this opportunity to start a discussion and for us to grow together as we read Lectionary selections of this book on Sunday mornings.
From day1.org "Saltwater Apocalypse": "The Book of Revelation has confounded Christians for centuries, much the same way that life itself confounds us. Was it written in code? What does it mean? To what do its symbols refer? Is it a message about the past, the future, or the present? As early as 210 A.D. Gaius of Rome forbade the public reading of this book because of its ability to create turmoil in the people who, as we all tend to do, sought to interpret the work solely from their own context. William Barclay called it the "playground of religious eccentrics."
While much does remain unclear, the purpose of this book is very clear. It was written primarily to encourage and inspire particular Christians under Roman persecution to endure and remain faithful during the time of tribulation, both the internal battles waged within a believer between personal faithfulness and the abandonment of faith and the external battles waged by a culture out of control, threatened by unenlightened leaders and pagan values.
It was a time of turmoil and terror in which the promise of ease and safety long believed to be a result of faith, could only be achieved by abandoning faith altogether, or by living a maddening double life. People of every race and circumstance saw every other as the enemy. The only hope for unity seemed to be in the heavy-handed control of an out-of-touch government that was basing its values on greed, power and the lack of visible dissension. It is into that context that John offers his vision of another way. It is a vision of hope.
To understand Revelation for our day, we have to understand the nature of hope. For Christians hope is not a wish. It is not a tooth under a pillow, or fingers crossed or just one more Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes try. Hope for a Christian is an assurance, a firm and binding promise. It is a sure thing. Hope is not a feeling. It is a fact. It is a fact rooted in the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and assured by the amazing, steadfast, unshakable love of God for God's people. God will not be shaken. Hope is independent of circumstances and it will never be conquered by evil. Even if hurt seems to be winning, the battle for God has already been won." Come and join in on this Sunday morning (during worship) book study!