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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, June 4, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Revelation 22:12–14, 16–17, 20–21 

“See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. “It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 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.

The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen. (NRSV)

“Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King.” I recall the familiar refrain of this treasured African American hymn from my childhood. Not being a regular church attender in my youth, I often heard it sung during funerals, as those gathered looked forward to a promised future when loved ones would be seen again and all would be made right in the world. But for the most part, the notion of Jesus coming was one that filled my young mind with trepidation. From books and preachers, I most commonly associated the Second Coming of Christ with images of fire, brimstone, calamity, and severe judgment. These were the images that colored my imagination about the coming of God’s new creation.

But over time, I have come to a different perspective, finding in images such as these from the Book of Revelation a remarkable comfort and hope. These are images of what we call apocalyptic literature: writing that unveils the previously hidden or obscured work of God in our world. Revealed in this passage is a window into divine generosity, found through God in Christ coming to open the way to the tree and water of life. The tree and water are symbolic of flourishing and prosperity, of an abundant life welling out into eternity. And Jesus says, “Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.”

Are you surprised by such words when the prevailing image of God in judgment is often condemnation? The message of this and similar passages reminds us that the most important aspect of God’s coming New Creation is the goodness that awaits those who most desire and need it.

Eternal God, we give thanks for your generous love. May the gift of your love be felt deeply in our hearts and transform our world as we walk into your future. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Minister for Evangelism

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