This Sunday we continue our journey through the final book of Holy Scripture. As the seals of the scroll of heaven are opened and the angels blow their trumpets, the events unleashed describe not what Christians could expect but rather what the Christians of the seven churches were already experiencing – disaster, disease, conflict, war, persecution. The faithful of earth are inevitably asking questions about what it all means, where history is headed, how they should respond. How can the faithful remain faithful? These are questions asked then, and now.
The answer comes in the passage we shall consider this Sunday, Revelation 8:1-5. The seals have been opened one by one, but before the seventh and final seal is opened, there is silence in heaven. Before the next times are inaugurated, the Holy One waits, waits for the prayers of the faithful that rise as the smoke of incense. For reasons inscrutable and incredible, the Holy One has chosen to wait upon the faithful, to work in partnership with them. The prayers of the faithful are an essential part of God’s triumph in human history.
The prayers are of a people who believe that the future can be different than today, that the powers that rule today are not ultimate, that God stands at the beginning and the end, that the future is still open by the grace of God.
As we read this, we are called to be such a people.
There have been many before us, of course. In the midst of trial and tribulation, the first generations of Christians continued in faith to pray, and by their prayers God was able to raise up the Church. This past week we received another episode of Diarmaid Macculloch’s A History of Christianity, focusing upon the witness of the Orthodox Church – through the loss of their spiritual home, the Hagia Sophia of Constantinople, to the Ottomans, exploitation by the Czars of Russia and annihilation by regimes Communist, the people continued to pray. The images of Orthodox worship were magnificent, including many censers and much incense, but even more impressive is the reminder of the discipline and perseverance involved in prayer, in being in partnership with God.
If you are in the area, join us in the worship of God, an hour of praise … and of prayer. There is a nursery for infants offered during the service, and a programme for children. Ample free parking is available on the streets around and in the public lot off Queen Street just behind the church. Have a look at the Order of Service below, and the many announcements with opportunities to grow and serve. And join us this Tuesday evening, 7 p.m., for another episode of A History of Christianity on the wide-screen, focusing on the Reformation.