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.