After many years serving as a pastor in several UCC and ELCA churches as well as a counselor in public schools, Rev. Dr. Robert R. LaRochelle is now retired and continuing to do supply preaching. In addition, his latest book I Love the Church, I Hate the Church: Paradox or Contradiction has recently been released by Wipf and Stock publishers.
Scripture: Revelation 7:9-17 (NRSV)
After this I 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. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’
And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing,
‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honour
and power and might
be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’
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 centre 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.’
Reflection: Revelation of Hope
As we are quite aware, Revelation is a pretty complicated Biblical book. Even more problematic is how it provides material for all kinds of dangerous interpretations as exemplified all too often by those on the Religious Right! Having said that, if we cut through what is on the surface of this particular Scriptural passage and delve into it in depth, we can discover that it need not be dangerous at all. In fact, to the contrary, the vivid symbolic descriptions within it point us in the direction of the reality that undergirds our very existence, the reality of the presence of the divine within our lives, that reality that goes by the name of ' God'.
The people in that place and period in the time described in the Bible experienced considerable anguish and pain in their everyday lives. Scripture is replete with examples. The political climate in those days was deadly, quite often literally. However, these words in this, the Bible's culminating book, point to an ideal made possible through the very presence of HOPE. If we are able to break away from literalizing its language, this final book in the New Testament can be for us a profoundly powerful affirmation of HOPE.
Having experienced the pain of COVID, the deadly absence of concern by so many for the health, well being and quality of life of others with its accompanying dreadful intolerance of others, we need HOPE. That hope is present in these words from this book, a piece of literature that is absolutely amazing and worth a careful, meditative read as we seek to live through these troubling times imbued with a desire for that which this Scripture passage affirms!
Let us pray....
By your very presence within us, O God, may we be guided to the springs of the water of life. May our tears and those of all humanity be wiped away from the eyes of those you love so dearly. We pray this in Jesus' name
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war
- For those grieving or suffering due to mass shootings
- For those who struggle with chronic pain
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For those moments that remind us how rich and abundant our lives truly are
This Week in History:
May 2, 1963 (59 years ago) More than 1,000 Black children march through the city of Birmingham, Alabama in a non-violent demonstration against segregation now known as the Children's Crusade. Police arrested 800 protestors, including a 6 year old girl, charging most of them for parading without a permit. The following day, the demonstration continued, but Birmingham police responded for aggressively, dousing the children with fire hoses and letting dogs loose on the demonstrators. This reaction provoked national outrage.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
Rev. Dr. Robert R. LaRochelle is an ordained UCC clergyperson who has served churches in Union and Manchester, Connecticut, as well as ELCA churches in Windsor, Wethersfield, and Plainville, Connecticut. He also worked as a teacher and counselor in ...