Thoughts for Monday 22nd June 2020

Psalm 86:11-17; Genesis 16:1-15; Revelation 2:1-7

 

Monday 22 June - Rev. Jerry Eve

 

Although New Testament epistles tended to be sent to one address (Romans to the Church in Rome, for example) they are also thought to have been widely circulated as well. Colossians even asks if it can then be passed on to Laodicea (Colossians 4:16). Revelation was written to be circulated around seven Churches in Asia Minor i.e. modern-day Turkey: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

 

I remember attending a Baptist Church a number of years ago when over seven weeks the pastor there preached on each of the specific messages John of the Apocalypse has for each of the seven Churches. On each successive Sunday morning another new banner would be hung from the gallery until there were seven in all. The first one, I remember, had gold lampstands and stars representing the seven Churches themselves and their angels respectively.

 

And I remember thinking Ephesus was probably the best place to start as there was a lot more Biblical material to work from about Ephesus and the Ephesians than any of the other cities John writes to. Ephesus, for example, is mentioned all the way from chapter 18 to chapter 21 of Acts, and there’s an epistle titled Ephesians too.

 

These first three chapters of Revelation, with John on the island of Patmos off the Turkish coast addressing cities like Ephesus which was on the coast as well as some inland, remind me of another passage in the Bible. And that’s Matthew 13 where we have Jesus sitting a little off the shore in a boat addressing people, some of whom would have been on the shore while others would have been standing a bit further away.

 

I don’t know how I’d have felt being an Ephesian and reading this, though. Would I have thought John was justified in criticising my lack of zeal? Would I want to write back to him? And would I agree with him where the Nicolaitans are concerned? Who were the Nicolaitans? One theory is that they were founded by a deacon called Nicolaus (see Acts 6:5), a Gentile from Antioch who had been chosen along with St Stephen to help the Apostles, but had subsequently ‘gone astray’. The truth though is that we just don’t know. Ephesus did have a Temple to Artemis (aka Diana) and it may be that Nicolaitans had attempted to syncretise Christianity with Greek mythology. This, though, is almost entirely speculative.

 

There’s a link, I think, between our two readings today, and it’s a meteor. Acts 19:35 refers to one at that Temple to Artemis in Ephesus, while the Kaaba – next to which Ishmael is traditionally thought to have been buried – has one too.

 

Let us pray:

 

Prayer for a Meteorite

 

We call them falling stars, O God,

these heavenly sparks that catch us up

in a glimpse of arcing light

just before they are gone.

 

And tonight, this falling star

reminds me of my father

who worked six days a week in a department store

and on Sunday nights went outside to look at stars,

his eyes wide with wonder.

If one fell, he pointed silently

and made a long sweep with his arm.

 

One night, when the earth was passing through

the tail of a comet, and bright flashes

streaked the darkness in all directions,

a bunch of us kids ran through the streets

screaming and waving at the sky.

 

My father had gone up on the roof that night,

and he lit matches and threw them down

behind our house toward the clothesline.

It looked like falling stars

were hitting the ground in our backyard,

so we ran in a pack that direction.

 

Then we heard my father laugh,

and we saw the matches in his hands,

and we felt silly but also a little sad

that something so far away

had not come close to us,

 

Amen (by Robert Jones from ‘Prayers for Puppies, Aging Autos, and Sleepless Nights: God Listens to It All’ 1993).


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