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,
I must say that for most of my life in the church, as I have studied the scriptures (casually when I was young and much more intensely as an adult), I have not been fond of phrases involving blood. For career choices, I simply could not have been a doctor. I do not appreciate the literal or figurative use of blood such as the hymn ‘There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood’. So, you may be wondering why I chose this scripture from Revelation and this title for my devotion. The answer is that I have had some new understandings due to this text. What a curious image John offers in chapter 7. The elder says "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." In John's apocalyptic writing, robes and the color white were probably symbols for one's outer appearance and for victory, thus telling the Christians that to be washed in the blood of the Lamb, that is, to hold fast to their belief in the resurrected Christ - this will bring victory over any ordeal they may be facing. John is trying to say that there is no ordeal that can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ if we remain faithful - not even death, not even a terrible death.
I think John is stating the most basic truth in Christianity. Because of Christ dying for us, because our souls can be whitewashed by his death on a cross; there is no difficulty we cannot overcome, there is no trial or tribulation or dilemma we cannot face and get through. One of the elders in Revelation asks John, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?" Out of the great ordeal they have come, out of a life of trials and temptations, distractions and interruptions. This is a promise for us as well. Although being pushed, pulled and sometimes pulverized by earthly events - job loss, pandemics, conflict with neighbors - we must do our best to remain close to God through prayer, praise, Scripture study and acts of simple service. We may have been bloodied by life, but then are white washed by faith in Jesus Christ. The martyrs and us are not given a way out of the ordeal but a way through the ordeal and they and we become the saints of God.
-Rev. Galen Wray
Prayer for Reflection
Creator God, you offer as a way through whatever ordeals we may face through Jesus Christ and his sacrificial blood. So yes - wash me and all of us in his blood and make us white as snow! Amen.
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