“If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” - Revelation 2:29 (Jerusalem Bible)
John, the revelator, writes “to the churches.”
In the west, we tend to individualize things. “What was the message to me?” I ask. We often read the Scripture as if it were addressed only to individuals. We mostly think of devotional material, like this, as addressed to each of us as individuals.
That’s all right.
Except it mostly isn’t the case, at least with the Bible. Revelation is addressed “to the churches.” And most of the rest of Scripture is also addressed to a people, a people in community, with a shared identity and with a life together.
So here’s another little bit from the same section in the Book of Revelation. As you read it, imagine your congregation gathered together, imagine yourself in that gathering, hearing these words addressed to your church:
“I know all about you; and now I have opened in front of you a door that nobody will be able to close...”
Does hearing that addressed to your church community change how you hear it? Does it extend our love to the left, to the right?
What if we are most truly who we are not when alone or in isolation, but when together, with others, with church? What if words of grace (or judgment) are not just for you but for you together, a people called of God?
We go through the door God opens not one by one, but together. It’s a big door.
So many of us are lonely, Holy One, living unto ourselves alone. Connect us, re-member us, and grant us grace to take our place in the Body, that is you. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.