Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fairy Tale??????

A few people have been offended by my use of "fairy tale" as the title for my commentary on Revelation. I'll offer here a brief explanation.

Fairy tales (like most popular movies) embody a deeply rooted human hunger for order and the ultimate triumph of justice and goodness. In fairy tales we read about conflict, bad guys, accidents, mistakes by the hero, unintended negative consequences . . . then we come to the end. At the end goodness triumphs, the maiden is united with her prince, justice is restored, all is right with the world. And they live happily ever after.

Revelation is the true account of God's plan to fulfill this ineradicable human hunger for the triumph of goodness. It is the divine truth that is pointed at by the human hunger. (Cf. C. S. Lewis notion that hunger itself is evidence of a reality that will satisfy that hunger.)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Audio of Sermons

I'm going to get around to posting written versions of the entire series on Revelation. However, if you wish you may access the audio of the sermons at: http://northhillchurch.googlepages.com/

You can also find the sermons by googling North Hill Adventist Fellowship. Follow the links on our church's web site.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Divine Fairy Tale - One

The Book of Revelation is a divine fairy tale. There's a great king, a noble prince (who rides on a white horse), a beautiful maiden, a great red ravenous dragon and a wicked witch. There's terrible conflict. Evil appears to win. But no worries. The story ends with happily ever after.

Chapter One

The book begins with the blessing: Grace and peace to you. (Note the stark contrast with the message often associated with Revelation: "Watch out! Unimaginable trouble is headed your way.")

Grace and Peace to you. This is the theme of the book. All the mayhem and evil pictured in Revelation is best viewed as evidence that when God speaks of grace and peace, he is not oblivious to the "real world." He speaks grace and peace as bold, almost swaggering contradictions of the "realities" we observe and experience.

The latest news or even our own experience of loss or injustice is not the most authoritative description of reality. Rather, our lives are suffused with the divine intention: Grace and peace. This is the central meaning of Revelation. It is declared here in chapter one and is repeated in various ways in chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 14, 19, 20, 21 and 22.

Grace and peace is the perfect introduction to a story that ends with people--real, live human beings seated with God on the throne participating in his reign forever and ever.

A New Dream

I heard a story in class the other day.

Thirty years ago, Linda (pseudonym) was taking Bible studies with a friend. Linda was working her way through the lessons at a very desultory pace. She continued more because she didn't want to disappoint her friend than because of a deep spiritual commitment.

Then she had a dream. In the dream her room was flooded with dazzling, brilliant light. Those of us listening were sure this light announced the presence of God in her life. But it didn't. In her dream she realized a nuclear bomb had detonated near by. Life was over. She wasn't ready. It was too late.

When she woke, she regarded the dream as a warning from God. So she got busy and completed the lessons and was baptized. And spent the next thirty years going to church, praying and doing all the other things believers do. She was devoted to God, but she couldn't shake her secret dread--if she didn't do what was right, if she didn't respond promptly enough to God, he would nuke her.

Then in a period of reflection, the nightmare of dread was suddenly transformed. She now saw the dream as evidence God cared enough to get her attention. God wanted a connection with her.

Instead of a nightmare, the dream was now a vision of God's care.

This story is a perfect metaphor for my approach to preaching on the Book of Revelation. I grew up captivated by the vivid images of beasts, plagues, devils, persecution and destruction evangelists drew from Revelation.

Now I see these dark images as background matrix for the real jewel of the book announced early in the first chapter: Grace and Peace to you. Revelation is not a nightmare of impending doom. It is a vision of God's care through the chaos and evil that are already amply evident in our world. At least that is how I see it through my hope-tinted glasses.