Revealing read: Finding meaning during trying times
I have been working on a number of mini-seminars which I have been offering through Facebook and YouTube during the Covid-19 crisis, in which I have been taking half an hour each week to explore a topic in a little more depth than we normally do during a sermon. They have also been questions that I have been working through in various ways, so sometimes the answer is, keep thinking about it, and keep learning about it.
Recently I was asked to explore the genre of the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible.
It was certainly fascinating to read a number of different people's approaches, from those who would argue that the entire book is to be interpreted as literal prophecy, to those who would suggest that it is best understood as symbolic storytelling to describe the political influence of the Roman empire over the early Christian communities, and its application for modern Christians is in the field of maintaining faith in the face of difficulties in general terms.
The two things that have been sitting with me from that context are these.
Although there is much destruction in the Book of Revelation, there is no indicator that the destruction or violence should originate from within the community of faith.
One of the themes is that the faithful Christian community is one that practices peace, even at great cost.
The other idea that has been sitting with me, and will no doubt continue to do so, is the meaning of revelation.
We often think of revelation as being like the pulling back of a curtain at a magic show, the big reveal of the trick, but it isn't.
You may have seen various different shows that have magicians revealing how a trick is done, and if you look closely enough, and can read the signs you can tell what is behind the curtain.
Revelation involves being shown something that we could not have known without the act of revelation, no matter how closely we looked, and in the book of Revelation the end of the story, however we want to interpret it, is one of life and renewal.
I for one think that is worth holding on to during some of the more trying times, when we might be hard pressed to see behind the curtain of every day doom and gloom.
Andrew Schmidt is the priest at Good Shepherd Anglican Church.