Daily Devotion for April 21, 2012
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
A beautiful Mozart Benedictus. The lyrics: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" (Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini).
Martin Luther's Prayer for Morning
I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all danger and harm. I ask you to preserve and keep me, this day also, from all sin and evil, that in all my thoughts, words, and deeds I may serve and please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all that is mine. Let your holy angels have charge of me, that the wicked one have no power over me.
Prayer of Thanks
O Thou whose bounty fills my cup, With every blessing meet! I give Thee thanks for every drop, The bitter and the sweet.
I praise Thee for the desert road, And for the riverside; For all Thy goodness hath bestowed, And all Thy grace denied.
I thank Thee for both smile and frown, And for the gain and loss; I praise Thee for the future crown And for the present cross.
I thank Thee for both wings of love Which stirred my worldly nest; And for the stormy clouds which drove Me, trembling, to Thy breast.
I bless Thee for the glad increase, And for the waning joy; And for this strange, this settled peace Which nothing can destroy.
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you direct my way unto you, and make me and all of us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end that we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.
But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
After this I, John, looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from? "I said to him, "Sir, you are the one that knows." Then he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Notes on the Scripture
The Revelation of St. John the Divine, known simply as Revelation or Book of Revelation, is perhaps the most difficult book in the Bible for many Christians. Comparatively few people read it, and probably most Christians are wary of it, because of the elaborate weird imagery describing the Second Coming of Christ.
To say that Revelation is an "apocalypse" just adds to the confusion, because few people understand what the word actually means. Apocalypse means "revelation" — the lifting of a veil or curtain, so that something previously unseen can be seen. It usually refers to a prediction of the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.
The narrow meaning of "apocalypse" that most people have — a violent and frightening end of the world — really originated from the Book of Revelation itself! But one could as easily call Daniel apocalyptic, or even the more prosaic works of someone like Marshall McLuhan, the man who coined terms like "the global village" and "the information age" to describe the great changes in society we have been seeing in the past 50 years.
Today's Bible passage describes heaven. It depicts the relationship of everyone who has been saved by Jesus Christ to God, after the Day of Judgment. It was likely much more popular in ancient times, when people wanted a literal, concrete description of what eternity would be like. In places, metaphors from the teachings of Christ become concrete images, such as the "springs of the water of life".
One particularly helpful image is John's description of "the blood of the Lamb". This rather gory concept is often embraced by very fervent Christians but somewhat disturbing to others; John actually tones the imagery down, by showing us that this blood is just a figurative expression for the sacrifice made by Christ and that washing a robe in it, rather than being gory, is a process that will turn the robe white. Figuratively, the "blood" is a bleach, one that is so powerful it removes the stain of sin entirely.
So those who have been saved by their belief in Christ, a countless multitude from every nation, are dressed in perfect white robes. This is a visual metaphor for the grace of Christ, which removes the wages of sin from our souls and leaves us in perfect innocence — represented by a perfect, snowy white robe — so that we will be acceptable to stand before God.
In the final paragraph, John gives us a lovely bit of poetry, words of comfort and peace to describe how a time awaits us, when all our suffering will end. This too is apocalypse, even though a marked change from the mass of terrifying imagery that characterizes Revelation. For a curtain is lifted to show us that all will change; pain will end, and God will give us perfect happiness.