The heat didn’t kick on overnight, so things were a bit chilly in church this morning – a reminder that our almost-40-year-old building is showing some unmistakable signs of age. Somehow, the discomfort we felt – we ‘6:30 Mass regulars’ – seemed oddly appropriate as we near the end of the liturgical year.
We’ve been hearing from the book of Revelation the past couple of days – passages filled with bizarre creatures and mind-bending images, all calculated (I suppose) to remind us of the end times. And huddled in our coats, as we were this morning throughout the liturgy, it felt a bit like a dystopian gathering: Creature comforts, suspended (at least temporarily); normal circumstances, overridden.
I can’t speak for my fellow Mass-goers, but I found the chill to be spiritually invigorating. It reminded me how prone I am to believe that we are in control. That we’ve got things figured out. That all will proceed – more or less – according to plan.
At some point, though, we inevitably discover just how powerless we are, in matters large and small. The Plan seems to take on a life of its own, and ‘no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth [is] able to open the scroll or examine it,’ as the writer of Revelation observes in tears.
Our occasional helplessness can be a gift, it seems to me. It can remind us that we tend to look for power in all the wrong places.
Revelation’s startling imagery assures us that there is One who is found worthy to lift us up from the dysfunction or destruction we might be experiencing at any given point in our lives. But we have to keep our eyes peeled, because our Hope comes disguised in the blood of the Lamb…now raised up to become the Lion of Judah.
A big part of our job, perhaps, is simply to keep chillin’ – to keep our eyes and hearts open – so that we are prepared to ‘recognize the time of [our] visitation.’
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.