Thursday, December 15, 2005

Revelation 4:9-5:5

The book of Revelation describes worship that is dramatic and engaging. It’s hard to imagine being bored watching what today’s reading so vividly describes.

There are interesting sights, like the “living creatures” (read their description in verses 6-8). I just saw King Kong, and the creatures in it were riveting. But these creatures sound even more riveting still.

There are interesting actions, involving more than one posture and position. So, for instance, people “fall down”. They throw things—namely their crowns, at the feet of God’s throne. A food fight isn’t exactly a similar image—its more like the antithesis of what is pictured here—but people don’t sit in a food fight unengaged. The throwing speaks of active participation.

There are interesting sounds. The living animals apparently have some sort of voice (is their worship spoken with the authority of a roar; does it resonate with bellow of an ox; does it pierce like the cry of an eagle?). The elders sing and chant.

I’m not suggesting that we need to take the images here at face value; as a literal description of what we’ll see in heaven. But I do want us to feel the grand drama of what is taking place, which culminates in the next scene.

There is a scroll—most likely a symbol of the will of God for his creation—but no one can open it. No one can effect God’s will and restore what is broken, heal what is damaged, redeem what is fallen. All is despair.

But wait—there is one after all, the Lion who can rip through the scroll to open it. In other words, he has the power to do so. And what is that power? Well, it’s something of a surprise—but that must wait for tomorrow’s reading!

For now, let me just ask us all—how is our worship going these days? Are we deeply involved in it? Do we appreciate the great drama of what God has done, what God is doing, and what God will yet do? Do we begin to appreciate the magnitude of the forces at work? Do we catch something of the privilege we are given to behold all this?

And not just to behold it, but to participate in it. Too often we approach worship tired, disinterested, without focus or expectation.. I hope today’s reading will give us all a renewed realization of how our worship can be—should be—so much more than it often is.

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