I do not like the book of Revelation. I do not like its violence, its vindictiveness, its opaqueness, its psychotic visions, its attitude toward women, its enemy thinking, its dualistic world view, or its vacancy of love. I don’t even like people who like the book of Revelation since many of them use it to justify their crazier ideas about God and then scare other people with what they think they know.
I knew the moment that I heard these opening words to Barbara Brown Taylor’s sermon at Washington National Cathedral that it was going to be a good one. In this sermon, Taylor discusses different views on the stories of Revelation, no holds barred. She discusses how people place more importance on and judge others by “where they are from” or “what they have done in their past.” In other words, so many people place more importance on their “Alpha stories.” Instead, Taylor argues that what is more important is what we choose for our destination…our “Omega stories.”
It was not until I got to work on this sermon that I realized how important our Omega stories are. Not our origin stories, but our destination stories. The ones that tell us who we are by telling us where we are going. These stories may not have the same solidity that our Alpha stories do, at least not at first, because they have not happened yet. Which means that no one can tell us which one is right. All we can do is choose one from the wide variety of end-time stories that the culture offers us daily, and then hope that we’ve chosen wisely, since our Omega stories will have as much or more to do with who we are than our Alpha stories ever do.
Taylor certainly has a way with words. If you are a person who struggles with modern interpretations or emphasis on the book of Revelation, you must listen to Taylor’s sermon.
Listen to her sermon here.
Or, watch the entire worship service here.
Sermon based on the readings Isaiah 25:6-9, Revelation 21:1-6a, and John 11:32-44.
–From the 11:15 a.m. Holy Eucharist at Washington National Cathedral, November 4, 2012. Click here to view the accompanying service leaflet.
When you expect the world to end at any moment, you know there is no need to hurry. You take your time, you do your work well.
I am done with the hearsay about the end of the world. I want to take a stand for good and do something to bring about positive change in the world, and leave it up to God to decide when the world will end, and to decide what exactly the “end of the world” might be. If more people thought this way, maybe the world wouldn’t seem like it was going to hell.
This is my take at least. One of the many things that steered me away from the fundamentalist Christian view on the end of the world was its continual focus on Christ’s return; on when Christ will return. I observed so many fundamentalist Christians who spent more of their time preaching to people to become born again and to repent and to prepare for the end, that they didn’t pay attention to care for the world in the hear and now…to be the hands and face and body of Christ to our broken world….to help their neighbors regardless of who they are…to actually try and be a force to make the world a better place.
The fundamenatalist Christian view of the end of the world is often based on Matthew chapter 24, in addition to much of the book of Revelation, both in the New Testament.
In this sermon by the Very Rev. Samuel Lloyd, a different viewpoint on the end of the world is discussed. Now that I am no longer of the fundamentalist mindset, I see just how amazingly backwards things really seem to be with the fundamentalist view of the end of times. It seems that the fundamentalist religious zealots around the world are the ones who are facilitating what may be perceived as “the end of the world.” The denial of humankind’s ability to bring about positive change, by the grace of God, astounds me. I no longer am of the opinion that I must stock my shelves full of foodstuffs and warn the rest of humanity that Christ’s return is iminent. Instead, I am of the mindset that positive change can and will happen by embodying God’s love in Jesus through my words and actions. Thank God for grace.
Wonderful God, your love and faithfulness surround us in the air we breathe, in the water that nourishes the earth, in the people who care for us. May your Spirit prompt us to meet you in the place of partnership. Move us into action as we live out the call to righteousness and faithfulness. Amen.
From The Green Bible Devotional, p. 162.