26 May 2016

Revelation 4:1-11

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (v. 11)

Psalm: Psalm 150


Now, as they say, for something completely different. Here we have a book which deals primarily not with the acts of God's people or of Jesus or the subsequent acts of his followers, but a book of visions of the end times as revealed by heavenly messengers. This is the only apocalyptic book of the New Testament.

It is a passage that helps us contemplate the majesty of God: "Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come" (v. 8). So often our worship can be earthbound and lack a sense of the majesty and the entire otherness of God. But this passage is full of extraordinary visions and extravagant images. The language almost takes one's breath away.

This word 'hallowed' has something of the same freight of wonder. We use it in the Lord's Prayer. It is is a word which embraces reverence, awe and majesty but we say it so often that we have come to take it as commonplace. The word 'awesome' has come into common currency and it's power has been dumb downed and domesticated.

On the glass doors of St Paul's Cathedral this quotation from Genesis is etched, "This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven" (Genesis 28:17) - a reminder to all who enter that it is not primarily a visitor attraction but holy ground.

C S Lewis said, "A human in the presence of God is going to feel one of two ways. Either you feel like a small, dirty object or you lose all thought of yourself. The latter is by far preferable." This passage helps us to apprehend the majesty of God and lose ourselves.

To Ponder

  • Methodist places of worship are well known for being welcoming. There is usually a pre-service hum of conversation. How far does this work against an aura of majesty and worship at the start of the service? Or is it doing something else?
  • Where have you felt the majesty of God most forcibly?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jennifer Potter

The Revd Jennifer Potter is a Methodist minister at Wesley's Chapel, City Road, London. Prior to being appointed to serve there she worked in the Connexional Team from 1996-2002 as the secretary for international affairs.