Third Sunday of Easter: The Epistle Passage – When the story becomes theatre

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11- 12)

Working up to a crescendo – the writer of the book of Revelation builds up the expectations of his reader by adding accolade after accolade to the description of Jesus. Not a revolutionary or insightful comment, I know. Biblical commentators have set side by side the dream/vision aspect of the book of Revelation and the messages encoded in the dreams narration. It is a message to the churches that have sprung up as a result of missionary trips. Some faith circles have done well, and some have not. It is also a message and encouragement for the churches to remain strong in the face of persecution.

“Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.” (Verses 13 – 14)

As a writer myself, I can detect the fine hand of the author who is trying to mount up excitement and momentum in this ongoing story. And quite honestly, it is a bit exhausting to read – the “ands” tend to contribute to the inner narrative monologue which incremental raises the pitch and tempo of the voice.

While epistles to the believers dwell in the area of discussion and debate, the book of Revelation is visual and audio story tell painting a picture of the activities in heaven. And pressing on the point that THIS is what will come to pass.

I have lived long enough that I remember at least two “eras” when end-time literature was quite prevalent. The first was in my middle teen years, and it stirred me up for some time until I realized that the fevered pitch of the stories overshadowed day to day reality. I chose to put my faith in, well, my faith. And not worry about what the end times might be like. The second was the “Left Behind” stories. And those too stirred my imagination . . . . . until the plot arrived beyond this world and plunged into the world to come. At that point I said, “Nay, you are just story-telling now” and went on to other ponderings.

If important life lessons can be learned, then “biblical theatre” is good – just as we now have more films that are faith-based and exhort the audience to live out Christian values and agendas. But whatever the story is, and how ever well it is presented, we need to remember the source, and the Source. Selah!

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