By Father Tim
Dear Christ the Redeemer family,
We rejoice to head into a new year – under God’s providence our lovely little planet circles our star again, and we look forward to the turning of the seasons in their due course, each one with its beauty and delights.
This year is an election year in our nation, which seems may well forebode the desperation and mistrust of our days rising to a fever pitch. In other parts of the world many of our brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus face deeper challenges, to freedom or to life itself. Indeed, there are many and wide-ranging issues and areas of suffering in the world today.
None of it, big and scary as it all can be, is anything that our Lord Jesus did not tell us would come, or that does not make sense with what our faith understands about the world. In fact our faith has told us plainly that these things would be, and it all raises life’s big questions: Where is God in the midst of it all? How is our Lord Jesus’ triumph of his finished work and his reign manifest in the midst of such times, and how is it that his triumph finally is, in the end, consummated? How do we know and hold onto the story we are living as his people, as we await his coming and serve him with courage and humility and joy?
We need vision to see these things: call it 2020 Vision.
So, dear friends in Christ, we will be doing a bit of spiritual ophthalmology this winter and spring: from mid-January through Trinity Sunday we will be walking through the Apocalypse according to St John: Revelation, the final book of the Bible. I cannot tell you how excited I and your clergy are, as we have begun working together on this.
Here are just three little clues about this series:
1. In 2 Timothy 3.16-17 Paul tells us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (ESV)
Think about that: this means that the book of Revelation is actually meant to be understood – not avoided, not embarrassing or confusing – but powerful and encouraging, by God’s Spirit.
2. There is a reason why the Bible leaves us with this book: Revelation tells us the story we are living now, if we have the vision to see it.
3. I read recently that the Chinese government has told the “official” churches (the ones recognized by the Chinese government and therefore legal) not to preach from the book of Revelation. I find that amazing! That means that the Chinese government understands something many modern Christians have not: that Revelation speaks to real-time realities here on earth, now (and in every age), in ways that would subvert their control, now, in the present.
I hope that is enough to whet your appetite for what our Lord Jesus wants to show us in the coming months. In the meantime, as we head into what may well be a tumultuous year, I find myself praying one of the most lovely of our Anglican prayers, the Collect for Quiet Confidence (p. 670 of our Book of Common Prayer):
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May Jesus Christ be praised,
PS: As noted above, this January our 9 a.m. celebration of Holy Eucharist is moving to 8.45 a.m. I am excited for this because it gives us a few more minutes “breathing room” in that service, along with more time for classes etc. in the 10 a.m. hour. And be on the lookout – some really good new adult classes are coming.