Today's Lectionary Text
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
For this reason they are before the throne of God,
The book of Revelation is not on my top-10 favorite books of the Bible. It is so full of all those messy metaphors, startling imagery, terrible destruction, and worst of all – judgment. For years, I have studiously avoided dealing with Revelation any more than I absolutely had to.
That changed suddenly one day, when I was meeting with a family while planning a funeral for an amazingly spunky and deeply faithful woman. I asked, as I always do, what were some of her favorite scriptures? The family shockingly replied that her favorite book of the Bible had always been Revelation. And so, in her honor, I dug in to that uncomfortable book of scripture and was surprised to find this beautiful nugget of comfort nestled right there in the middle of this troublesome book.
I have come to learn that God has a way of finding us in the middle of all our own mess, and even in the middle of our own discomfort. It took the funeral of this wonderful woman to pull me out of my own comfort zone, and to realize the deep messages that Revelation has even for me.
As the scripture says, the ones there worshipping God at the throne for eternity are the ones “who have come out of the great ordeal.” God sees us in even our worst moments, in the middle of whatever “ordeal” we may find ourselves immersed in, and saves a place for us – a place before the throne, a place where we will be sheltered and cared for. A place where “God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes.”
In the middle of all the mess and all the ordeal, God loves us.
What a wonderful comfort! Comfort found even in an unlikely place like the book of Revelation.
-Rev. Andrea Byer
Clay Center UMC
Prayer for Reflection
Ever-surprising God, thank you for finding me and loving me, even in the middle of all the mess in my life. Help me to remember your love and honor you always. Amen.
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