Advent 2021: A Season Of Healing And Hope – November 30
November 29, 2021
Waiting in Line
(Daniel Pryfogle is an LABC minister-at-large and cofounder of the multifaith community Sympara)
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”
7 “See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant[e] with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”
10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”
12 “See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
14 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. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
16 “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.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
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.
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; 19 if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
20 The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.Revelation 22 (NRSV)
The One who is to come is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. So said the followers of John of Patmos. They stood at the front of the line. They didn’t have much hope for those bringing up the rear, “the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters.” These would not get into the city of God. The gate would close before the end of the line, according to the Revelation.
Generations passed. The line zigzagged. “See, I am coming soon!” said the One in the mouths of John’s heirs, but it was hard to see when the line was not straight.
Generations passed again. The line split like the veins of a leaf. The line curled in upon itself, making roots below and a canopy above. The line became the Tree of Life. “And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations,” said those who kept the Revelation for the living and the dead.
The line became a circle. The circle spun. The centrifuge pulled in the edges and gathered in the outliers. The center expanded, confusing those who held to the old line. “Come, Lord Jesus,” they said.
When they forgot the world and the world forgot the way in the world, the circulator of the Revelation, a poet, said, “In my beginning is my end.”
And the poet said, “We must be still and still moving.”
Someone near the front (or was that the back?) said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” Others responded, “Is that in the Revelation?” They weren’t sure. They concluded it was better to close the Book before the vision that closes the Book. The poet concluded, “The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated.”
It doesn’t stop. The leaves of the tree turn and turn. The wind shakes the tree and scatters seeds across the face of the earth. The leaves turn and turn, season after season. When the healing goes out it comes back in. When the healing comes in it goes back out. Those who wait see the circle come around, Alpha and Omega’s line unbroken. So we linger even now. “We must be still and still moving.”
We pick up the line, “The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’
“Amen,” we say. “Come, Lord Jesus!”