Wednesday Word: Reclaiming Hope
Written originally as a word of comfort and hope, it has become for many a word of fear and despair. Catherine Gunsalus Gonzalez and Justo L. Gonzalez, WBC: Revelation
This is the second sentence of the introduction to this commentary on the book of Revelation. I am currently doing a study of Revelation on Zoom every Sunday at 1 pm. I had been asked to do this for several reasons, but, I think, primarily because we as a church spend precious little time with this last book of scripture. Between the four horsemen of the apocalypse, scrolls of judgment, bowls of disease, hail and fire mixed with blood, avenging locusts, and earth being burned up by fire and falling stars, it's no wonder people are afraid to delve into this book. It's no wonder that people view this book as a book of fear and despair.
Earlier this week I had a conversation with a man who wanted to know why the Episcopal church suddenly began allowing gays and lesbians to marry and get ordained. During that conversation he quoted Leviticus 20:13. I pointed out to him that people were quick to condemn others with those so-called “clobber verses,” but those same people were just as likely to ignore Leviticus 19:9-10, 19, and 33-34 (among others).
The totality of scripture is the story of God trying to bring humanity back into unity with God and others. I'm reminded of Eucharistic Prayer C: “Again and again, you called us to return. Through prophets and sages you revealed your righteous Law. And in the fullness of time you sent your only Son, born of a woman, to fulfill your Law, to open for us the way of freedom and peace.”
For too long holy scripture has been used as a club to pound people into submission, as a horror novel used to sell fire insurance, or as a blueprint for self-satisfaction. None of these views are correct, and all of them neglect to view the bible as the above authors described Revelation.
We are hopefully coming to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are hopefully coming to a place where we can regather and worship without fear. That full return may yet be a ways off, but I am hopeful we are getting there.
In that return we have something to share with the world around us. In that return it is up to us to present scripture and our faith as expressed here at Saint John's as words of comfort and hope. Because really, there is enough fear and despair in the world without Christians adding to it.