1st Scripture Reading: Acts 9:36-43, and Psalm 23
Read from Ralph Milton’s Lectionary Story Bible: “Dorcas and Anna help each other”.
Hymn # 747 VU “The Lord’s My Shepherd”
2nd Scripture Reading: Revelation 7:9-17 and John 10:22-30
Sometimes things aren’t what we think they are. Sometimes things don’t look like we think they should.
I mean the whole book of Revelation doesn’t fit into what most of us would call reality! In fact, seriously, the whole of our Bible is full of stories and poetry and accounts of events that many of us find frankly unbelievable.
And yet…. There is truth here. There is truth that is living water for those of us struggling to understand why we are here, how did we get here, and what are we supposed to be doing.
The Jews had been expecting and praying for a Messiah to show them the way out of oppression and slavery for a very long time. So when Jesus shows up, some folk recognize him as someone very special, some even call him the Messiah – but many are sceptical. In this reading from the Gospel of John we see this drawn out for us very clearly. “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah tell us plainly.”
We know what we see, what we hear – what we can touch. It is sometimes very hard to see what we have never seen before, or to understand words we have never heard before. Jesus brought humanity an invitation to a new way of seeing, a new level of understanding – a huge shift in consciousness that would take all humankind in a new direction for the next several millennia.
But he didn’t look like the Messiah to the Jews. We can only guess what they expected him to look like – maybe a strong military leader seated on a gloriously adorned white horse. Maybe a king with a fabulous golden crown and sceptre. We don’t know. What we are told here is that they did not expect him to look like the itinerant preacher that he was, the son of Joseph the carpenter – a local boy, if you will.
Shaking people awake, opening their eyes to a new way of understanding their world, their reality – that is a very big challenge. It requires stretching our minds, opening our eyes to possibilities we hadn’t entertained before. That’s why the miracles of healing were such an important part of Jesus’ teaching. He even says so in this reading: “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me.”
And then there is the Book of Revelation. So mysterious, so outside the realm of anything the Jews encountered as their everyday reality. So magical! This mystery, this mystical vision is so different from ordinary seeing that to grasp its meaning at all requires that we stretch our longing toward the heavens, toward God.
I find this reading so hopeful, so encouraging! All peoples of all nations shall stand before the throne of God – all will be welcomed into the kingdom. All suffering will end, and all will be fed the living water of God that is our salvation.
God’s great love, as demonstrated to us by Jesus, colours outside all the lines!
Hymn #138 MV “My Love Colours Outside the Lines”