Advent: December 16

Revelation 1:9-18

I, John, … was [exiled] on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet …

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’

John is visited by Jesus in the middle of his worship. John’s description of him is hampered by the ability of a mere human to express in words the appearance of Christ glorified, who is standing right there. This is not someone you can name as Jesus, for Jesus the man who died and Christ the Victor was raised into a new form, recognisable and not recognisable. John is attempting to describe the Word of God resplendent in his glory. Take the words literally and you will have a restricted and incomplete image of him. Ponder, instead on what John was trying to describe. A long, white robe and golden sash – what does that signify? White hair, not because of age, for he is ageless. And so much brightness and shining brilliance – eyes and face. What are the stars for? Why the two-edged sword? There are clues in the Bible to these things, but I leave you to chase those up.

The words that John records being spoken to him are beyond our understanding, too, even though they are a record of speech. Let’s ponder a while on the One who is the First and the Last, who spans time and is beyond time. What use is time in eternity? Our dear writer of Amazing Grace could only describe in earthly words having been in heaven ten thousand years in a place beyond time! We know what he means, as did he. As for ten thousand times ten thousand years of eternity in heaven, and still we’ve first begun.

What will your arrival in heaven be like?

Will St Peter be on the arrivals desk?

What will you be doing once you've settled in?

Lord Jesus, you are resplendent, immaculate and glorious. You gave me hope when you came to my home planet as a human, and allowed me to connect with your humanity. You now reign on high, above every power and authority, and you still intercede for me, for my family, for my church, my town and nation. All praise to you, Lord. Amen

All hail the power (with a long intro!)