Doom and gloom

Revelation 11:1-14
If you keep up with the lectionary, the Christian calendar gets pretty weird right about now.

Turkey visions and Christmas decorating enrapture the hearts of many people. At the same time, the church turns to the end of the world. On the first Sunday of Advent, you may hear the prophet Jeremiah say, “The days are surely coming” (Jeremiah 33:14). Jesus will warn you to “be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place” (Luke 21:36).

Not too long ago, I learned the Swedish church doesn’t identify the last Sunday of the Christian year as we do. We call it Christ the King Sunday. They call it Doom Sunday.

It seems strange, doesn’t it? Why are we so “doom and gloom” when everyone else is holly and jolly? It’s not that we’re fixated on the end of the world. We just see it differently. The end of the world is no real end. It is the beginning of the new God always promised us.

Of course, if we talk about the end of the world, Revelation normally comes up. And if you want to talk about strange visions, this book doesn’t disappoint. In today’s reading, we have one of the most mystifying visions in the Bible. It involves the two witnesses.

As you might imagine, there are different interpretations of this passage. Several questions guide which you take. For example, what temple is John to measure? Who gave him the rod to measure with? The big question is who are the two witnesses mentioned? Moses, Elijah and Enoch are common suggestions. Some say the two are illustrative of the Old and New Testaments. Others question if they are symbolic of the church.

Now, who are they? Who knows? Whoever they are, they have authority and power. It seems their presence is in response to the trampling of the holy city. They are to prophesy.

The encouragement I take away today comes from the beginning of the chapter. John is to measure “the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there.” Is this some kind of safe space for those who seek to worship God? If so, they must know the turmoil outside that space.

Their world is falling apart around them. Still, they worship.

And, God’s word still speaks truth to the world through the two witnesses. God’s power is not overcome.

I’m writing this on a Sunday evening. It’s our day of rest and worship. Many may have skipped “going to church” today for a number of reasons. Others may have gone to hear a good sermon or because that’s just what you do on Sunday mornings. How I pray for a revival. If it is to come for us, it will begin in our worship and devotion to prayer.

In so many ways, the world around us is hurting and, seemingly, falling apart. Many of us feel like we’re the ones being trampled upon. If so, keep your worship a priority.

God has given us a place and a time to worship and a people to worship with. There may be so much we can’t and won’t understand. And circumstances around us may be dire. But we don’t run from the doom and gloom. Instead, we face it with the joy, strength and power of God. As the prophet Isaiah said, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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