Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-17

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

  • The Politics of a Slain Lamb

    by Amy Allen
    As a relative political outsider, the 45th president appeals to an increasing distrust of career politicians in the American public. In the turn of the century Roman Empire, common citizens harbored a similar distrust for the political elite. Originally built on the concepts of mutual obligation and patronage, by the first century of the Common Era power in the Roman Empire was increasingly tied to wealth and circumstance rather than kinship and law. Power was primarily sold to the highest bidder and the average citizen was left out of the equation—or, more accurately, exploited in order to fund their patron’s next conquest...
  • Sermon Starters (Easter 4C)(2019)

    by Doug Bratt
    Louise Penny is one of the 21st century’s writers most imaginative and descriptive authors. While she writes fiction, she communicates truths that many non-fiction authors would do well to emulate. In her book, The Nature of the Beast, Penny says Clara, whose husband died very suddenly, “knew that grief took a terrible toll. It was paid at every birthday, every holiday, every Christmas. It was paid when glimpsing the familiar handwriting, or a hat, or a balled-up sock. Or hearing a creak that could have, should have been a footstep. Grief took its toll each morning, each evening, every noon hour as those who were left behind struggled forward.” It is such grief that, by God’s amazing grace, Revelation 7 insists has no place now in the heavenly realm and will have no place soon in the new creation.
  • All Saints (A)(2017)

    by Kevin Bright
    An enduring memory of mine is the prayer card she had wedged into one of the kitchen cupboards, laminated of course so it could be wiped clean occasionally amid the chaos. It may be familiar to you. Many simply know it as the ‘Kitchen Prayer’. The first part of it goes… Lord of all pots and pans and things Since I’ve not time to be A saint by doing lovely things or Watching late with Thee Or dreaming in the dawn light or Storming Heaven’s gates Make me a saint by getting meals and Washing up the plates...
  • Who Are They? Whose Are They?

    by Rob Elder
    ("I dreamt death came the other night, And heaven's gate swung wide. An angel with a halo bright ushered me inside. And there! to my astonishment stood folks I'd judged and labeled: As quite unfit, of little worth, and spiritually disabled. Indignant words rose to my lips but never were set free For every face showed stunned surprise – no one expected me!...")
  • All Saints' Day

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
  • The Blood of the Lamb

    by Sil Galvan
    There is a book written by Jeff Smith, who was also known as the Frugal Gourmet, called THE FRUGAL GOURMET KEEPS THE FEAST. This book contains a most memorable discussion of how the shedding of Christ's blood reconciles us to God. Smith says he learned it from a shepherd. It has to do with what he calls "the blood of adoption." "In the morning a shepherd awakes to find that a ewe has given birth to a child . . . and the child has died. In another portion of his flock the shepherd finds another ewe that gave birth during the night and the mother died! So, the shepherd has a childless mother on the one hand, and the mother will probably die of a broken heart. On the other hand he has an orphan. All logic tells him to put the orphan with the childless mother. Should work, shouldn't it? It will not work, not at all, as the mother knows the child is not hers and the child [itself] is confused and starving. "The old prophets and the old shepherds," says Smith, "saw in this regular event in their flock a perfect image of our relationship to God. We are so alienated from one another that we are dying from starvation and God is dying of a broken heart. But one thing can be done, and only one. If the shepherd [takes] the dead lamb and drains [its] blood, he can then wash the orphan in the blood of the [dead] lamb, and the mother, smelling her own, immediately moves so that the orphan may suckle. In other words, the orphan is brought to table and to life by [its] adoption through the blood. The early Scriptures promised that a Messiah would come and be the lamb by which we were brought to an intimate relationship with God."...
  • The New Dawn

    by Vince Gerhardy
    A man and a woman were sitting next to each other on a plane. It was obvious that the man was keen to talk and was soon telling the woman how he had recently lost his little son through death. He said, “My son had come home from school with a fever and we thought it was just one of those childhood things, but it was a very virulent form of meningitis. The doctor said there was little that could be done to save his life”. The man went on to tell how he and his wife took up a bedside vigil next to their dying boy. The boy said, “Daddy, I’m getting tired. I guess it's time for me to go to sleep”. Even though it was the middle of the day, his father helped him to get his pillow just right and then both parents kissed their son like they did every night. Sleepily the boy said, “Good night. I’ll see you in the morning.” He then closed his eyes and stepped over into heaven.
  • Through a Window

    by Vince Gerhardy
    I remember going to an underwater observatory somewhere out on Great Barrier Reef. We went down under the surface of the sea into a room with windows. Through these windows we could observe a completely different world – different kinds and colours of coral, brightly coloured tropical fish, star fish, crabs – a world of colour and beauty that you couldn’t even begin to imagine from the surface. All that separated us from the beautiful world out there was the glass in the windows. It was an amazing sight but soon we had to leave and go back to our familiar world above the sea...
  • When You Can't Stand, Sing!

    by Peter Haynes
    A Lutheran pastor in the city of Eilenburg, Germany, Martin Rinkhart was well acquainted with tribulation. He faithfully served his church and this city for 32 years, throughout what came to be known as the "30 Years War." As Eilenburg had a wall surrounding it, refugees fled to it as a place of safety, adding more mouths to feed and bringing with them the plague. In the year 1637 thousands of people died, the result of war and disease, including Martin’s own wife. Since all other clergymen had either left or died, he conducted more than 4,000 funerals that year, sometimes 40 or 50 a day. In the midst of the violence and pestilence of that period, this pietist minister wrote the words of the popular hymn "Now thank we all our God." What on earth, we might wonder, did he have anything for which to be grateful? He, himself, survived the war, but died a year later, exhausted and prematurely aged. Nevertheless, his song continues to ring out...
  • In Memory and In Hope

    by Janet Hunt
    ...last week a beloved cousin came to visit. He had stopped to see his folks the night before he flew out and as he sat with them he told his dad he was going to see Kathleen. “You remember Kathleen, don’t you dad? She was Tommy’s wife.” (Kathleen is my mother.) Now in these recent years my dad’s brother does not remember as he once did. For a moment last week, though, there was clarity as he remembered his only brother and as he registered all over again the fact that he had died and with that remembering, his face fell along with his tears. And mine did, too, to hear of his remembering.
  • Beholding the Lamb

    by Terrance Klein
    In “Amoris Laetitia,” Pope Francis writes that “fruitful love becomes a symbol of God’s inner life” (No. 11). There is an image of contemplation that is seared into my soul. It’s my last glimpse of my father alive. I was visiting home and had volunteered to celebrate Mass that morning in the parish. As I left our family’s home, I glanced into his bedroom. My father was sitting up in bed. Despite the morphine, he was in too much pain to lie back. My mother was sitting next to him on the bed, holding his hand. Two days earlier, she had had a mastectomy. The image of them sitting in pain, sitting together, remains with me, like a pietà. They weren’t speaking; there wasn’t anything to say. Did either know that my father had only a few more minutes to live? At the end of Mass, I would learn that he had passed. Would there have been something to say if they had known? What more was there to talk about? They had passed a life in words and gestures, and shared experiences. Now, they were simply there. Together. That’s contemplation.
  • Stand Up and Show Your Soul!

    by Nicholas Lang
    ("In her book A Passion for Life, Joan Chittister writes 'For centuries the church has confronted the human community with role models of greatness. We call them saints when what we really often mean is "icon," "star," "hero," ones so possessed by an internal vision of divine goodness that they give us a glimpse of the face of God in the center of the human. They give us a taste of the possibilities of greatness in ourselves.'...")
  • Who Are These?

    by David Martyn
    At the start of the new millennium, in the town of Al Kosheh in Upper Egypt, the terror began with a simple transaction. On New Year’s Eve, a Christian shopkeeper refused to sell to a man due to his bad credit record. The man and his brothers returned to attack the shop and then began looting other Christian establishments. Some 3,000 eventually joined in the riot against Christians, burning more than 150 homes and businesses throughout the area. The destruction continued for three days and extended to nearby towns, where the population is predominantly Coptic (Orthodox) Christian. Christians were hunted down and slaughtered just days before Orthodox Christmas on January 7, 2000. When the violence ended, 21 Christians lay dead and at least 44 were wounded. Their leader Bishop Wissa’s spoke to churches in our part of the world; “What I want to convey … is that we need to be supported by your prayers. We are part of the Body of Christ that is experiencing a lot of suffering and pain. As a shepherd, I am very pained to see that 21 of my children were killed and their blood was shed for simply believing in Jesus Christ. All the property of my children in Al Kosheh has been stolen. What was left, they burned. This brings me a lot of pain. I don’t believe that there is any monetary compensation that could make up for what was lost. What we really are desperate for is the peace that only Christ can give—and can give us through your prayers. My only request is that you would continue to support us and to stand with us in prayer.”...
  • Easter 4C (1998)

    by Mikel McClain
    Jeff Smith, "Frugal Gourmet," was traveling through Washington state and was in a remote area when he came across a flock of sheep crossing the road. He stopped his car to wait and soon the shepherd of the flock came by on horseback. Jeff Smith is an ordained minister and had a question for the shepherd. He asked: "What do you think when you hear the expression `Lamb of God?'" The answer was more than he could have expected. The old shepherd told this story. He began: Springtime is a tough time for sheep and shepherds. It is lambing time. It is a time of tragedy. When many ewes are giving birth, the shepherd must often deal with problems. Sometimes a lamb dies at birth, sometime a ewe dies giving birth. And here is the scene. Over here is a mother sheep who has lost her baby at birth. Over there is a lamb that has lost his mother in the process of being given life. But sheep are difficult animals. A sheep will not take a lamb that is not its own. And so we have the case of a mother sheep full of the milk that will not nourish her baby and no baby to feed. And we have a lamb, hungry for life-giving nourishment and no milk to drink. Soon the motherless baby will starve to death. It is a scene of abundance and scarcity all at once. And this is what the good shepherd must do. Now this is going to be a bit graphic but it is the truth. To reconcile this moment of tragedy, the shepherd takes the lamb that has died and slits its throat. Then the good shepherd washed the living lamb in the blood who died. Out of death will come life. The lamb who died gives life to the lamb that is motherless. Now the mother sheep will accept this new baby, this baby washed in the blood of her own. The shepherd then said, "That is what I know about about the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd as well."...
  • The Great Multitude

    by Elizabeth Palmer
    Then Judy began talking about her favorite Flannery O’Connor story, “Revelation.” The story ends at sunset with the protagonist—a spiteful, judgmental woman named Mrs. Turpin—envisioning a great horde of people tumbling toward heaven. The first people she sees in the crowd are the very people she’s spent the day despising, black people and poor people and uneducated people, “battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs.” What’s really great about the story, Judy said, is that these people are at the beginning of the line. All of the people who consider themselves respectable and dignified—those with money and education and privilege, like Mrs. Turpin—are marching at the end of the line. They’re the last to get into heaven. But what matters in the end, continued Judy, is that everyone is in line. Everyone...
  • There's Someplace Like Home

    by Michael Ruffin
    I’ll admit that the words of Jason Isbell’s song If We Were Vampires struck a nerve as I listened to them in 2018, the year of our fortieth wedding anniversary: It’s knowing that this can’t go on forever Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone Maybe we’ll get forty years together But one day I’ll be gone Or one day you’ll be gone. Again, for some people thinking of home produces a negative reaction rooted in painful experiences. But the Bible deals in ideals even as it confronts reality. Our feelings about home may be mixed, but that won’t be the case when we get to the one God has for us. When that happens, the ideal will be real...

Other Resources from 2020

  • All Saints (A)(2020)

    by David Brooks
  • Holy! Holy! Holy!

    by Charles Lane Cowen
  • The Great Multitude

    by Kathy Donley
    Desmond Tutu was Bishop in Johannesburg, South Africa in the 1980’s, during the ordeal of apartheid. He described his experience at St. Mary’s Cathedral there like this: “There is no question whatever that our Cathedral is thoroughly prayed in by all kinds of people – black people, white people, big people, little people, representatives of the variegated family of God find a warm welcome . . .I will always have a lump in my throat when I think of the children at St. Mary’s, pointers to what can be if our society would become sane and normal. Here were children of all races playing, praying, learning and even fighting together, almost uniquely in South Africa. And as I have knelt in the Dean’s stall at the superb High Mass with incense, bells and everything, watching a multi-racial crowd file up to the altar rails to receive communion, the one bread and the one cup given by a mixed team of clergy and lay ministers, with a multi-racial choir,– all this in apartheid-mad South Africa – then tears sometimes streamed down my cheeks, tears of joy that it could be that indeed Jesus Christ had broken down the wall of partition and here were the first fruits of the eschatological community right in front of my eyes, enacting the message in several languages on the noticeboard outside that this is a house of prayer for people of all races who are welcome at all times. St. Mary’s had made me believe the vision of St. John “After this I looked and saw a vast throng, which no one could count, from every nation, of all tribes, peoples and languages standing in front of the throne..."
  • All Saints (A)(2020)

    by Dean Flemming
  • All Saints (A)(2020)

    by Phil Heinze
  • Massive Good News

    by Glenn Monson
  • All Saints (A)(2020)

    by Barbara Rossing
  • All Saints (A)(2020)

    by Beth Schlegel

Other Resources from 2019

Other Resources from 2016 to 2018

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Other Resources from 2014 and 2015

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Other Resources from 2010 to 2013

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Other Resources from the Archives

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