Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC) Lectionary Reflection Year C, Easter 3, New Testament

Revelation 5:6-14

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; and he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; and they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth."

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, "To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!"

And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Reflection on Revelation 5:6-14 by the Rev John Gibbs, PhD

Faith's cosmic perspective extends from the first book of scripture through the first great hymnbook of God's People (the Psalter) on into the last book of scripture. The Apocalypse (or Revelation) is a different literary genre than Torah, than Gospel, than Epistle, than Psalter. Here we have poetic images piled on top of one another in "an inspired picture-book" (NRSV Annotated Bible) that appeals to our imagination. Artists such as A. Drer, musicians such as G. F. Handel, and literary writers beyond number have all been moved by its symbolism that embraces the entire history of God's People and even all the processes of the cosmic totality.

Literalism cannot do justice to this inspired Apocalypse, for the reality to which it symbolically points is not contained within itself. That reality is ultimately inexpressible in words, in paintings, in music, or in any other medium at our disposal. It is the Reality whom we may experience ourselves when reading this text, or when we are in a special location or holy time. There and then our eyes behold and our ears hear what is more real than any literal sound or color or shape that is actually present to us. In that way we begin to experience what this reader reports: "Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, 'To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory, and might forever and ever!"

John Gibbs, a retired theologan, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 2000. John and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC Holy Trinity Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

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