Resisting Trump with Revelation (03)

Revelation 1:1-3 (03)

We begin our journey with Revelation as a “Resistical” Worship service by treating the first three verses of the book as the “Welcome and Announcement of a Guest Preacher” at First Church of Patmos.[1] The first section is a reading of the text as this “resistical” worship service. The comment afterwards deals with issue(s) of our resistance. The notes deal with some textual and contextual issues in relation to the texts.

Welcome and Announcement of a Guest Preacher

Good day, friends. Welcome to worship here at First Church of Patmos. Today we have a guest preacher – none other than the risen Christ himself [2](along with his interpreter John). Jesus will lead us in worship this morning. His sermon title is “What Must Soon Take Place.” The Seer John who received the vision Jesus unveils[3] for us this morning with be Jesus’ interpreter. None of us “speak” Jesus naturally, you see. We all need help to grasp what he says to us, and John is that help.

You know the pressure churches in our area are under. The Empire presses in on us all around. It’s propaganda and the way we feel forced to do certain things just to get along shapes us in powerful ways in directions other than the way Jesus wants us to go. Persecution for our faith is a real and growing threat. It’s not always physical persecution. More often it’s psychological and social force to change and comply.[4] The Emperor wants to make us loyal to him or else.[5] That why Jesus himself is here with us today. Our King! Our Emperor![6] He will show us how to take it to the empire just like he did.[7] The Empire can’t have us – and with his insight, perception, and we can follow him faithfully. Without him we’ve got no hope! Without him we’ve got no help!

But thanks be to God, he’s with us today and we get to hear his word. And we will be clued[8] in. Yes, clued in! Thanks be to God, because it’s all about to fall in on us! Let’s welcome Jesus and John.

There are many ways of resisting empire and emperors. There are many ways all these different forms of resistance can collaborate and cross-fertilize one another. And they should. Yet each them also has their own resources and traditions that guide their resistance. The church should learn and collaborate as much as it can with other movements of resistance. But it must draw its identity and integrity from its own sources and nurture itself on the presence and way of Jesus Messiah for its particular way of resistance (which at points will not be understood or accepted by other resistance movements).

[1] Patmos may have been an island used by the Empire for criminal exile. We don’t have explicit evidence for this but other small islands in the environs were so used.
[2] “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (v.1).
[3] The meaning of “revelation.”
[4] Donald Trump is bringing the American Empire or American Exceptionalism to bear on us in a vigorous and aggressive fashion. America love it or leave it (or don’t come in) or shut up seems the operating subtext. He seeks new disciplines to enforce our compliance and silence. It’s just getting started but the handwriting is on the wall!
[5] “(Revelation) would identify allegiance as the defining spiritual issue of the day.” J. Nelson Kraybill, Apocalypse and Allegiance: Worship, Politics, and Devotion in the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2010), 21.  
[6] “Messiah” means Israel’s king and ruler of the world.
[7] “Blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in (this word of testimony to Jesus)” (v.3).  
[8] My paraphrase of “blessed.”


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