Fourth Sunday of Easter – Epistle

by Bear Wade

Hope in The Midst of The Great Ordeal
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Revelation 7:9-17
Analysis by Robin Morgan

Revelation 7: 9After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from the every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. 16They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; 17for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”


Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem) – Why Wait?
Great multitudes from every tribe, people and language are gathered to worship God and the Lamb. “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” It sounds like Sunday morning — as the sun rises in time zone after time zone, Christians gather to worship — in cathedrals, in homes, outdoors, even hidden in darkened corners — groups of Christians, large or small, gather to sing God’s praises and remember the hope of our salvation. God promises to shelter us, feed us, give us drink, protect us from the scorching heat and wipe away our tears.

But some of us are hungry and the sun has blistered the skin of others. Tears still fall from our eyes and some have no sheltering place to sleep at night. Waiting on God’s promises can begin to seem like a fool’s errand.

Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem) – Waiting Refused
How can God’s promises be trusted with so much evidence to the contrary? Hearts damaged by years of pain develop scar tissue that is hard to penetrate. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable begins to feel like a form of masochism. This life is the great ordeal that infects us all.

Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem) – The Ultimate Wait
Nonetheless, God holds us accountable even in the midst of this struggle. And, since we are unable to account for ourselves before God, our ultimate ordeal is to be separated from the salvation that belongs to our God and the Lamb.


Step 4: Initial Diagnosis (Eternal Solution) – The Ultimate Hope
But it is the Lamb, an unlikely hero by anyone’s standards, who comes to our rescue. He leaves his heavenly seat and lives with us, struggles as we do in the midst of life’s great ordeal and then is slain that we might be delivered from the power of evil that has surrounded us and penetrated our hearts for so long. His life and resurrection are the ultimate evidence that God’s reign and not the great ordeal is the ultimate reality.

Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution) – Hope Restored
Even scared/scarred hearts can be healed and opened by the Lamb’s power and love. His goodness calls to us, his intimate care for each of us (who are part of that innumerable throng) draws us to him. And hope returns, almost in spite of ourselves and all the worldly evidence to the contrary. Our robes have been washed white in the blood of the Lamb.

Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution) – Why Not Share the Hope?
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” We sing praises to our God; we wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises. But our waiting is not passive. We share our hope with everyone who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us. We offer our lives in service to others who, like us, need to be reminded over and over again that God’s promises are true.


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In the early 1970s two seminary professors listened to the plea of some lay Christians. “Can you help us live out our faith in the world of daily work?” they asked. “Can you help us connect Sunday worship with our lives the other six days of the week?”  That is how Crossings was born.


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