Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Lamb Wins

Last June I had an opportunity to travel with Global Action Canada to visit women (and men) in the church in Bulgaria. I think I wept for the first three days. It wasn't that I was sad. The services we participated in were lively and praiseful. The people were welcoming and generous and loving. The team was open and eager to be present in every situation. No, it was the sense that Christians I met had come through persecution and suppression. They had endured and prevailed.

I prayed with one elderly couple at our first service. They were so dignified, having the composure that only a lifetime of faith can give. We held eachother, all three weeping, and took turns praying in foreign tongues, not understanding a word of eachothers' prayers, but knowing the gist of the matter: the love of Christ and the sustaining presence of the Holy Spirit. I knew, without being told, of how they had worshipped for fifty years, in secret, in the underground church. I knew the risks they had taken, the cost of their discipleship. This knowledge just brought me to my knees.

Today was the Sunday of Christ the King, the culmination of the church year, the celebration of the victory of Christ over sin and evil. Not by coincidence, it was also the Sunday of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It was with new ears, then, that I heard the words of St. John from his exile on the Island of Patmos. John, part of the persecuted church was writing his vision of just what it meant to be Sovereign. And I understood what these words of scripture mean. Out of the depth of persecution, imprisoned, silenced, tortured John sees with clarity. It is the Lamb that wins, the wounded Lamb, the crucified Lamb. It is not the Lion who is worthy to read the scroll but the Lamb. It is not the mighty but the powerless who are worthy. Victory is not triumphing by force or even by ballot.. Victory is laying down one's life for one's friends. Victory is a cup of water given in His name, the widow's penny offering, the little child leading, the faith of ordinary people tested by adversity. Bless them. They walk in the footsteps of Christ the King.

" Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?' But no one in heaven or earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.'
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: ' You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation...." Rev. 5:1-9a


Lisa said...

Connie, I've been thinking about this since I read it the first time (and I've been back, just like Arnie). I've been thinking of steadfastness and hardship. I really love reading your writing, in large part because you create questions and space, not answers.

blessings and peace

anj said...

Connie, this post is redeeming a very beautiful part of the bible that I have been scared of, and rejected. I need to sit wiht your words rumbling around until they take root, when that happens perahps the whole book of Revelations will open up to me as a woman, instead of the young child who heard it spoken of and was so fearful. Thank you for sharing your new ears with me, so that I may have new ears too.

Mike Todd said...

New ears for me too.
Thanks Connie.

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