4John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. 8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said?
- Why is this happening/being said?
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it?
- What does it mean?
- What does it mean for us?
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
Reflection: Take a look at the stained glass image of Jesus above. How is it different from the stained glass image of Jesus we reflected on a couple weeks ago? In this image, Jesus is no longer suffering on the cross, but he is triumphant, crowned with a halo and lifting his hand in a symbol which traditionally signified wisdom and power. We are reminded that though suffering touched Jesus in a profound way for a brief time, he has been Lord from the beginning and will be forevermore. Jesus is victorious over suffering – both his and ours – and offers us the power and peace of resurrection life. Imagine yourself encountering the risen, glorified Christ in all of his power and authority. What do you do when you see him? Do you bow before him or fall into his arms of strength? What words does he speak to you? Why does it matter to you to know that Jesus is “the ruler of the kings of the earth?” What would it take for him to truly be the ruler of your life? Let him free you and glorify himself in you.
Prayer Focus: This week, pray that God will expand your perspective. So often, we can set our focus on our own lives and the limitations we see around us. We can get overwhelmed by present situations and small problems that get magnified by our shortsightedness. God has an eternal perspective, even as God is very active in the day to day doings of our lives and this world. Everything that happens in the here and now for us is considered by God in the breadth of his timelessness and his everlasting will, love, and wisdom. Ask God to grant you a glimpse of that divine, eternal perspective. What truly matters in this perspective? How does the reign of God over time and space affect the way we pray in the here and now? Our struggles and problems, our insights and praises, and our need for grace in the moment matter to God, and God is waiting to respond in the resources of his ever-reaching authority and love.
Meditation Focus: Focus your mind on these two words: first and last. We are told in our Scripture for the week that the Lord God is the Alpha and Omega. These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, respectively. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the bookends, so to speak, of all reality. Everything begins and ends with the Lord God. Nothing has come into being apart from the Lord God and nothing will be lost to the Lord God, somehow slipping through the cracks and ending apart from the knowledge and authority of the Lord God. Oftentimes, we want to have both the first word and the last word in conversations, but this week is an opportunity to allow the Lord God to have what is rightly his – the first and last word in your life. What word would the Lord God speak to you right away, first, in this moment? What word would the Lord God leave you with in this moment? Would they be words of challenge, life, love, forgiveness, assurance? How has the Lord God been with you from the beginning? How will you continue to be aware of God’s presence with you until the end? First. Last. Allow the Lord God to be both in you.
Journaling Focus: Take a moment to look back over your life, from your beginning to your present stage of life. What came before you that helped make you who your are? What legacy do you wish to inspire in the lives of those who are yet to come? Consider how Christ Jesus has been working in the world from the very beginning and that he will be working to bring about the kingdom until its fulfillment. How might you be a part of what Christ Jesus has been doing from the beginning and how might you become a co-laborer with Christ (as Paul put it) in the work of the kingdom? How has Christ Jesus worked in your family and community to bring you to where you are? How might he use you to establish faithfulness and discipleship in the next generation of your family and community? Christ Jesus was, is, and is to come, and has invited you into his eternal plan.
Breath Prayer: Father, be my (our) foundation.