Seventh Sunday of Easter
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
Here is one of the verses of scripture so scary that the lectionary committee decided it dare not be read in the assembly: "Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood" (Rev. 22:15).
Like the gospel of Mark, Rev. 22:15 sets up a clear distinction between insiders and outsiders, but unlike Mark, Revelation does not problematize that distinction. Little in Revelation leads you to think there may be some surprises at the End regarding who is really inside and who is outside. In Rev. 22:15, we get a list of outsiders, pure and simple. Any questions?
I agree that this lack of even a hint of irony regarding the categories of "insider" and "outsider" is scary, not to mention naive, given the way that God traditionally upends human expectations about such things. However, I do not agree that the assembly gathered on Sunday morning must be protected from this verse. Please God let it be that the evil within and around us will in the End be defeated and put to death! I certainly hope that God leaves outside the holy city everything in me that would:
- regard God not as one who may be trusted to keep promises, but rather as one who must be manipulated with right incantations or actions in order to dispense blessing (sorcery),
- use people, objectify a lover to get what I want, regard sex as mere "recreation" that can be disconnected from lifelong partnership (fornication),
- kill, or wish someone dead (murder),
- fear, love or trust anything above God (idolatry), or
- deceive myself or others (falsehood).
Rev. 22:15 gives us language to say that as Christians, we hope not to have to put up with perpetrating these practices or being victimized by them for eternity! In as much as lectionary decisions take away from us language to say that we expect that God will free us from them, those decisions are selling short the dream of a new heaven and a new earth.