To the Church in Sardis
These words jumped off the page, “I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” These words, to me, are striking and scary. Could our Church be like Sardis? Could our Church appear to be alive but on the inside dead? I would hope not! How do we make sure we are not a dead church. The rest of the letter explains to us what being alive on the inside looks like. Stay awake and repent. How do we stay awake? Prayer, reading the scriptures, and the sacraments. What is the sacramental life like in our lives? What is our prayer life like? These are the real signs of being alive, not necessarily external acts. Again challenging words to Sardis, and just like yesterday, the words to us again are repent.
To the Church in Laodicea
I feel like I have heard these words before. “You are neither cold nor hot.” What does it mean for us to be lukewarm in our faith? The letter hints at what this may look like. We claim to be rich, affluent, and in no need of anything, but we are rather pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. What are the doctors, or in this case, Jesus, orders? Again the letter explains it for us. Buy gold refined by fire, put on white garments, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes. Gold refined by fire is likely redemptive suffering. When we suffer and unite that to Christ, we become rich, not in earthly wealth but heavenly wealth. White Garments? See Revelation 19:8 or the righteous deeds of the saints. Finally, the cure for blindness is to repent.
A final note
I’m choosing to reflect on the lectionary readings and not Revelation as a whole. The lectionary skips over portions of the book of Revelation, and I will follow their lead. Finally, I’m primarily using two sources for this reflection. Coming Soon by Michael Barber, and the Anchor Yale Bible Commentary on Revelation by Craig R. Koester. Coming soon is an easier read, and I would recommend it. The Anchor Yale Bible is an Academic level commentary and isn’t a casual read.