Peeling the Onion: Revelation 3:14-22

Message to 7th of 7 Churches

Laodicea is 'lukewarm', eh? Sound like any mainline/sideline denomination you know? We pride ourselves on moderation and reasonableness - a sort of Deism, really - yes and no – sucking and blowing - give me partisan passion, for God's sake!

We may not be so rude as to say ‘we are rich’ (though we are, even as working class Canadians) but we enjoy material security unparalleled in history – What we do claim is disinterested charity, altruism – We object to any ‘conflict of interest’, We ‘tip’ God for her help to us

Perhaps we have lost the passion and compassion of need – Perhaps we should recapture the crude old hymn lyrics, Which sang weekly that we are:

wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked

What if our souls were at stake – Would we feel some chill and heat?

We miss our evangelical and Pentecostal cousins sorely, lately I do repeat v20 at nearly every communion service, Echoing a weekly call to worship used by a minister of my youth, Dr. George Goth:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock
If anyone hear my voice,
And open the door,
I will come in and sup with them,
And they with me…

Yesterday the assurance was of an open door, That self-appointed religious gatekeeping humans couldn’t shut what Jesus opened Today the reminder is that it’s the divine knocking, And up to us to open and welcome the guest, as hosts Not to assume that we are unwelcome or unworthy

What have you been making of ‘conquering’? Each church is assured that if we conquer, then we share the realization of the hope A militant faith need not be imperial or violent – It might be resistant in the face of mortal challenges –Most familiar to us in health crises, but not so limited

Looking back, what are you proud of conquering
Looking back, what shames you with defeat?

We’re all in constant ‘recovery’, as the 12-step movement says Over and over, I ask people:

What side of the fence are you on, And who’s there with you?

Tactically, that choice will more often than not mean losing the day – Not maximizing short term success – ‘there’s not much money in youth and poverty work’ (except, sadly, for the professional class serving agency over client)

I miss the out-sized personalities and characters of our movement, And cringe at the mealy-mouthed ‘gospel of nice’ that’s left – I would rather be called truculent and difficult than unctuous and oily!

Close your eyes to visualize the imagery, Or read along with the NRSV text below (and below that, NJB translation alternative)

NJB

14 'Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea and say, "Here is the message of the Amen, the trustworthy, the true witness, the Principle of God's creation:

15 I know about your activities: how you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other,

16 but since you are neither hot nor cold, but only lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth.

17 You say to yourself: I am rich, I have made a fortune and have everything I want, never realizing that you are wretchedly and pitiably poor, and blind and naked too.

18 I warn you, buy from me the gold that has been tested in the fire to make you truly rich, and white robes to clothe you and hide your shameful nakedness, and ointment to put on your eyes to enable you to see.

19 I reprove and train those whom I love: so repent in real earnest.

20 Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person's side.

21 Anyone who proves victorious I will allow to share my throne, just as I have myself overcome and have taken my seat with my Father on his throne.

22 Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches." '

NSRV

Message to 7th of 7 Churches

14 ‘And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation:

15 ‘I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot.

16So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

17For you say, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

18Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.

19I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.

20Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

21To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

22Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.’