From Exile to Eternity

Reflections on Faith, God & Isolation

A Lockdown Devotional for the start of a New Year:

Friday 22nd January 2021: #20 Easter Saturday, John and Patmos

Click here for link to the video

So, we come to the end of our series, having reflected on the events of the first Good Friday, we might be tempted quickly to jump to the joy of Easter Sunday, thinking of that famous phrase of the old African-American preacher “That was Friday, but Sunday’s coming’!” However, we should not skip over the ‘nothingness’ of Easter Saturday and the discipline of waiting which it should instill within us.

Easter Saturday is a day in the Christian calendar that gives us an opportunity to reflect on that in-between time. Something of great cosmic importance has happened: the sky was blackened, the earth shook and, more locally, but no less significantly, the massive curtain in the temple that symbolised our separation from the Holy One was ripped in two by no human hand.

Easter Saturday is a picture of how we live our lives of discipleship today.

And yet….. We know something of even greater significance occurs tomorrow. But we must wait for it. Await God’s time.

Easter Saturday is a picture of how we live our lives of discipleship today. Between the reality of our having died to sin and been crucified with Christ, and the expectation of our own resurrection to eternal life, we live here and now, divinely forgiven and accepted, yet longing for heaven. These pandemic days are, if nothing else, a time of waiting. But we do not wait like those who have no hope.

even in exile, even in isolation, even during the waiting, God still speaks.

As we have looked at all of the biblical characters who have suffered isolation, there may be a temptation to think that now, since Jesus has come, we will not suffer the same way. But that is not the case. At the very end of the Bible we read that the last remaining disciple, John, as an infirm old man, found himself exiled on the penal colony of Patmos because of “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus;” that is, it was his Christian faith and witness that led directly to his suffering isolation on a lonely island. Christ had foretold persecution and the apostles told us to expect it. However, the experience of John shows us that even in exile, even in isolation, even during the waiting, God still speaks.

It was while he was in lockdown that John received a series of breathtaking visions reassuring him that Christ was on the throne

It was while he was in lockdown on Patmos, that John received a series of breathtaking visions reassuring him and his persecuted sisters and brothers that Christ was on the throne and that all other empires and powers would ultimately give way to his rule; a vision of every tribe and tongue worshipping the King of kings; a vision of all the powers of evil: beasts, dragons, apocalyptic horsemen, plagues and disasters, defeated and no longer able to torment or afflict the faithful; a vision of a new Creation.

These visions are introduced with the words of chapter one: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

And so, meantime, we wait, and we are not afraid. Yes, Sunday is on its way: but so too is the even more glorious final day when we ourselves shall be released from death, when all plagues and epidemics will be over, and when every tear will be wiped away. Come, O morning Light.

For Saturday Night/Sunday morning (Tune: Gabriel’s Oboe, E. Morricone)

Come, O morning Light!
Enfold our cold hearts in your warm embrace.
Come banish the darkness of our benighted hearts.
Engulf us in your beams,
Enliven us with your life-giving rays,
And shine upon us
With radiance of love divine,
And give us hope again.

Dead the night’s lament,
And finished the weeping of yesterday;
Our crucified hopes are revived, we dare to dream;
All fear is past and gone
and so tomorrow dawns with resurrection light.
Your matchless glory
Has touched us and giv’n our hearts
The power to love again.

Sun of righteousness,
Arise now and heal every humble heart,
And bind up the broken, restore the lost and stolen years;
Come touch us with your grace,
And cause our souls to dance with wild unfettered joy,
For you have conquered,
And risen, to die no more,
And we can live again.

© David J Montgomery 2011

Lord Jesus, as we await the glory and joy of the resurrection give us patience today to be quiet, and in the waiting and the stillness, to listen for what you would say to us.  As we end this period of reflection, bring to our mind in the weeks ahead the truths you have imprinted on our hearts these past weeks, and may we live lives characterised by resurrection hope and heaven-anticipating humility. Thank you that we, the undeserving, have been counted worthy because of your love and atoning sacrifice for us. Praise you, Lord Jesus, Amen.

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