|Episcopal Church in Minnesota|
Environmental Stewardship Commission
Year C, Seventh Sunday of Easter, New Testament
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20
At the end of the visions I, John, heard these words:
"See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone's work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.
"It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."
The Spirit and the bride say,
And let everyone who hears say, "Come."
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
The one who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon."
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
Reflection on Revelation
22:12-14, 16-17, 20
by John G. Gibbs, PhD
Here we come to the Epilogue not only of the book of Revelation but also of all Christian canonical Scripture. If ever there was an all-inclusive cosmic perspective, this is it: "I am the Alpha and the Omega [first and last letters of the Greek alphabet], the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
Here apocalyptic fervor, taught with the tension of "the-time-is-near," reaches choral-symphonic scale as we hear on one side the Spirit and the bride say "Come," and on all sides everyone who hears say "Come." Then we behold everyone who is thirsty coming, and each one who wants it, taking the water of life "as a gift." Then we all break out together in the final chorus: "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."
It is unthinkable that the whole creation is not also present here in the Epilogue, just as it was in the immediately preceding section (21:1-22:5) that conveys John's vision of the New Jerusalem. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Just as the Epilogue is a feast for the ears, so this vision is a feast for eyes. "See, I am making all things new" (21:5).
John's theology of hope praises God as Creator, and it does so throughout
the book of Revelation. Addressing God, the seer proclaims ".you created
all things, and by your will they existed and were created" (4:11; cf.
14:7). Chapters 21-22 have the obvious intent of stating that God is not
going to destroy his handiwork, but rather will bring it to perfection.
In a most interesting comparison between Virgil's Georgics and John's Apocalypse,
works that were only about 100 years apart, Sean McDonough states this
point most clearly: "There is nothing in Revelation to suggest that the
final resurrection is a non-material affair" (231). To the contrary, John
projects "a renovated cosmos," and he "holds forth a sure promise of total
cosmic redemption" (237; pages refer to the journal New Testament Studies,
26 (2000), pp., 227-44).
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