"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
(Rev 1:1–8 ESV)
Stepping into worship in the face of tragedy is always a difficult thing. The attack in Boston this week is but one painful picture of what congregations around the world will be dealing with. Cancers, car accidents, unexpected deaths, marriages that have crumbled and so much more face congregations as they come to worship. On the larger stage there is the drum roll of wars, drone attacks, hunger, starvation, and oppression.
As the book of Revelation begins we find John imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos. It is the Lord's day, the day of worship, but he has no community to worship with. The communities he will be writing to are struggling with all kinds of pain, suffereing, foolishness, and persecution. In the face of it all God begins with words that declare that he is God and there is no other.
The theme of these first verses will continue throughout Revelation as we are brought again and again to the throne room of God, a throne room that people in the Roman Empire would recognize for its picture reflects the throne room of Ceasar. In Revelation God insists over and over again: "No matter who declares that they are in charge, the reality is that I rule, I reign, and finally, I win".
The declaration of Revelation is a promise rooted in the reality that God has always kept his promises--even when it cost him his son. As we enter into this weekend of worship with all that can seem so out of control we hold tighly to the words of Revelation and the promise they bring. I think that the video below helps take that message into our hearts:
“Alpha and Omega, two words that go together, but express one idea, two names by which only one shall be called, through which the great unknown becomes not what, nor when, or even how, but who. And so our greatest fears in what we do not know are transformed into our greatest hope because of whom we now know: the future is known by he who holds it, the one whose blood was shed for us; Christ in us, the presence of God.”
As you step into worship what texts and promises of God especially give you hope in the face of tragedy and struggle?