Advent: Day 11

Daily Office Lections: Amos 8:1-14; Revelation 1:17--2:17; Matthew 23:1-12

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. --- Revelation 1:17-18

For me, the Apostle John is the model for how one ought to relate to God both in worship and in the rest of life. He relationship with Jesus speaks of the nearness of God (immanence), that God is truly Emmanuel, that is, "God with us." We see this when he rests his head upon the breast of our Lord at the Last Supper. But his relationship with Jesus speak equally of the holiness and otherness of God (transcendence). Though John is "the disciple whom Jesus loved," he never forgets who it is that loves him ---- "the first and the last," Almighty God. So when he sees the Risen and Glorified Jesus, he falls at his feet though dead. Fear and trembling are the natural responses when we encounter the living God.

Jesus then tells him to fear not, that he has overcome hell and death through his life, death, and resurrection. John then gets privilege of becoming Jesus' amanuensis (for Jesus dictates the content of the letters). And he begins with a letter to the Church at Ephesus.

Ephesus is orthodox, doctrinally strong, virtuous, diligent, holy, and faithful. Jesus commends for being such. And as important as all those things are (both then and now), they had left their first love. What was their first love? What could it be but God himself? The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with everything that you are.

Jesus bookends his call to repentance with praise. After the warning, he praises them for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Part of loving God, of true genuine Christian love (see Romans 12) is abhorring what is evil. Our love for God and others, moves us to hate that which is evil, that which profanes God's name and harms our neighbors.

So let us with eyes of our hearts, gaze upon the Crucified and Risen so that through our meditation the Holy Spirit will shed abroad the love of God in our hearts afresh.

Fr. Matt