Exploring Revelation 1: 4-8 a reading for this coming Sunday after Easter

The Book of Revelation functions as many things: a letter addressing specific issues, prophesy and warnings to follow God, apocalyptic narrative… a Christian prophet named John (not the apostle) wrote this letter to specific churches addressing their circumstances as members of a new expression of religion. There was tension between new Christians and the general population, both Romans and Jews, who considered Christians to be disloyal, unpatriotic, and antisocial for not participating in some of the local festivals and traditions. John’s letter to the seven churches attempts to bolster their faith by inspiring confidence, stirring up indignation for those who defy God, provoking repentance, and, as Mark Allan Powell puts it, “inspir[ing] praise for God from those who realize the Lord of history is worthy of their trust.”

John does this in part with apocalyptic images: God’s eventual victorious return puts the temporal and earthly struggles into a larger, more cosmic perspective. Remembering that we are loved and cherished by the Alpha and Omega makes it a little easier to stay committed to our faith in the face of tension today.

• What can you do to remember the “bigger picture” instead of being mired down in the small?
• What image of a triumphant God is most comforting or inspiring to you? (Is God “coming with the clouds”?)