A Lent Reflection for Friday, March 24th
By Rev. Jeannette Conver
Lectionary reading: Psalm 130; Ezekiel 33:10-16; Revelation 11:15-19
Selected passage: Revelation 11:15-19 (First Nation’s Version)
Revelation 11:15-19 (The First Nations Bible)
15Then when the seventh spirit-messenger sounded his eagle bone whistle, I heard loud voices in the spirit-world above.
“The power to rule this world now belongs to our Great Spirit Chief and to his Chosen One,” the voices thundered, “and the guidance of his good road will last beyond the end of all days.”
16Then the twenty-four elders, who sit in seats of honor before Creator, fell face down on the ground to give honor to the Great Spirit.
17“We offer thanks to you, O honored One,” they said with one voice. “You are the All-Powerful One, Who Is and Was, for you have received your great power and established your good road. 18The nations were furious, but now the time of your fierce anger has come. It is time for you to decide the fate of the dead and to honor the ones who serve you—both prophets and holy ones—all who have deep respect for your name, from the smallest to the greatest among us. And it is time for you to bring to an end the ones who have brought destruction to the land.”
19Then I looked and saw that the way into Creator’s sacred lodge in the spirit-world above was open. Inside the lodge the cedar box of the peace treaty came into view. Lightning flashed with the sound of crashing thunder, and the earth shook while large hailstones fell from the sky.
The apostle John does his best in this Scripture to give us a glimpse into the awe-inspiring moment when heavenly voices thunder out, “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. And he shall reign forever and ever.” I have to admit that when I hear the words of verse 15 in a traditional English translation, I am immediately immersed in the majestic, soaring music of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. I am transported to the alto section of a massed chorus, overlooking a full orchestra in a massive cathedral. Chills run down my body from head to foot. I shout God’s praise with all my might. This music was the composer, George Frideric Handel’s vision of God’s presence in all its radiance and glory. And just as the twenty-four elders fall on their faces in worship, so this piece of music has evoked worship and awe in audiences for centuries.
But I felt I needed a fresh look at these verses—and the First Nations Version, an indigenous translation of the New Testament, gave me just that. The words still carry the sense of awe John experienced as he heard and saw this vision. He is overcome by the power of the thundering voices that declare that at last, the power to rule the world belongs completely to the Great Spirit Chief and his Chosen One.
Then I was impressed by the words “good road.” The All-Powerful One has established a good road for us to walk. Oh how we long for a good way through the chaos and wars all around our world—a way that is just and right. Even though the nations are furious—bringing down their anger upon their citizens and neighbors—God has revealed God’s great power to bring this destruction of the land to an end. An indigenous perspective of the good road God establishes includes the ultimate good of all creation—the land included. No more un-natural disasters—no more famine, drought, fire, or flood. No more war and violence and injustice. What a beautiful hope awaits us!
John continues with the affirmation that all of us who have deep respect for God’s name—from the smallest to the greatest, will be honored. No one will be overlooked, insignificant, or marginalized ever again.
The vision ends with a glimpse into the sacred lodge in the spirit world. There John sees the covenant, a peace treaty between God and humanity. God’s covenant will be renewed. Worship and praise will be unhindered. God’s goodness will have free reign on the earth. God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven!
John had this hope-inspiring vision during a time of persecution, violence, and enemy occupation. He heard voices proclaiming that God’s power for good will at last come in completeness. What reminds you of God’s power and goodness? Walk out in nature and praise creator God for the beauty of the land. Listen to the “Hallelujah” Chorus. Look at this painting of the seventh angel from John’s vision.
Our God the Chosen One, sometimes I lose sight of your good road that leads me into the future. Please remind me of your promises that you will make all things new and good! Thanks be to God.
About the Author
Jeannette was lead pastor at an ECC Church in Vermont and now pastors Community Covenant Church in Clear Lake, Washington. She has an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary, coaches leaders, strives for justice and racial righteousness, and has served as president of Advocates for Covenant Clergywomen. She and her husband have four adult children and two grandchildren.