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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Come

The final nine verse of Revelation are a part of the Revised Common Lectionary, but they fall on the 7th Sunday after Easter in year C. This past year was Year C, so these verses, Revelation 22:12-21, would have been one of the readings for May 16, 2010. I don’t think that means we’re 7 months too late. I find that the final verses of Revelation make a most appropriate Christmas time reflection.

Advent is a season of anticipating the coming of Christ. Note how the theme of his “coming” is central at the end of Revelation. “See, I am coming soon” (22:12).

Also, in verse 16, Jesus declares his identity. “I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

And note the response of faith in verse 17. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.”

Finally, the author of Revelation finishes his testimony saying, “Amen! Come Lord Jesus” (v.20b)!

The desire for the earthly return of Jesus is clearly expressed. The communities of the seven churches (see 1:11 and chapters 2-3) were living under severe persecution as the letters in the second and third chapters show. Many died because they refused to renounce Jesus and acknowledge the deity of the emperor. For their faithful witness, they underwent torture and in some cases death. John himself, the writer of Revelation, was exiled on the island of Patmos for his testimony. These Christians wanted Jesus to return and finish the victory that was won at the cross and in the resurrection. They desperately wanted the promises we see throughout Revelation to come through quickly. John did too. So, though he writes informing his churches of the Lordship of Jesus, he finishes with a flourish of cries. “Come Lord Jesus!”

Also, in this conclusion to the great apocalypse, an invitation is issued to the weary followers of Christ. They (and we) are invited to the waters of life (v.17). This is where I think Revelation meets Christmas. We wait for Christmas to get here (shopping, presents, the tree, the decorations, the Christmas Eve worship service, the two weeks from Christmas to New Year that the kids are out of school). The entire season is one of waiting, anticipating, and then arriving.

It can weigh heavy on person. Vibrant faith gets crowded out in the hustle and bustle. We hear so many country, jazz, pop, and rock stars do radio versions of our favorite hymns – worship songs, we miss the message. “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “O Come Let us Adore Him,” and so many other Christmas hymns are proclamations of the Gospel. But all we hear are the same cheesy versions of the same songs we hear every year at this time. I am not saying it is always this way for me or anyone else, but it can be. Some of the most sublime worship experiences I have had have come with these songs. Other times, I hear them from late October to January 1, and I think, “Enough already.”

For those who are holiday-weary, the invitation in Revelation 21 is especially poignant. “Come Lord Jesus.” It’s a prayer for Jesus to come at the judgment, the Last Day. But it is also a prayer for Jesus to come into my life in a reviving, fresh way today. Maybe the establishment of the Kingdom of God won’t be completed in 2011. Maybe the End Times will not reach the final end any time soon. But, the Kingdom has been inaugurated. That happened on Easter Sunday when the tomb was discovered empty.

The Jesus is in the manger is the same Jesus who walked out of the grave. He is the same Jesus who spoke in the pages of Revelation. He sits at the right hand of the Father. He invites us to his kingdom rule and to his boundless grace today. So, as an act of worship, and as a needed rescue from the blur of the season, and as a necessary spur to your own spirit, ask Jesus to enter your life in a new way today. Center your life on your relationship with Him. Sing the song of Revelation 21. Come! Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

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