The year was about AD 90, around two decades before the temple that stood in Jerusalem had been absolutely leveled.  Emperor Titus, along with his Roman army, came in and absolutely leveled the central spot of worship in Judaism.  In doing so, they started to remove even the very soul and heart of that religion.  They’ve never worshipped the same since that building was destroyed.  The Apostle John, at this point in time, is a friend of Jesus.  He’s one of the only disciples still alive.  In fact, most people would say he’s the ONLY disciple still alive, and he finds himself in exile.  He finds himself on this little island off the coast of what’s now modern-day Turkey.  It’s about 24 miles from the shore.  He’s there as a prisoner of the empire of Rome.  Rome, in AD 90, is ruled by a man by the name of Domitian.  Domitian was the very first emperor that required that he was worshipped as both god and savior.  John refused to bow his knee.  Can you imagine standing before the emperor and being required to bow down to worship him as god?  John, this friend of Jesus, the one who cared for Jesus’s mom after Jesus was crucified, risen . . . the one who leaned up against Jesus during the last supper meal he celebrated with his disciples. . . .this John.  This John refused to bow his knee.  Tradition says that Domitian got a pot of boiling oil and dumped it on the Apostle John to try to kill him.  It sort of backfired on him though.  The people there that were witnessing this ‘murder’ actually turned and started to follow Jesus because they saw that it didn’t affect John in the way it should have.  Since he couldn’t kill him, Domitian thought he’d put John on an island with other criminals.

I wonder, in ancient world, what it would have been like to be on a deserted island (with a few other prisoners) and to look up at the stars.  I wonder if the night felt like it would never end, like the sky kept going and going and going.  I wonder if the promise made to Abraham—I’ll make your descendants like the stars, like the sand on the seashore—I wonder if he (John) walked the shores and thought about that promise.  I wonder if the silence was almost deafening.  John, the pastor of a series of churches, is taken away from his churches.  The empire rules with an iron fist.  They have something called the pax romana, the Roman peace, but it was only peace if you were on the right side of the sword.  I wonder if John starts to replay the things he’s seen Jesus do…the healings that he’s seen, the raising from the dead, the mud on the guy’s eyes that makes him miraculously see, the guy who carries his mat away from the spot where he’d been sitting crippled for years and years.  I wonder if John sits isolated on this island wondering when his miracle’s going to come.  Twenty-four miles away from anything that would, in any way, shape, or form, be seen as redemption or hope.

That’s where we pick up our story.  It’s a Sunday morning and John’s doing what you do as a disciple….going to church.  In Revelation 1:10 it says John ‘was in the Spirit’ and he heard a voice.  He heard a voice that said, “Write this down!”  You wonder if John found some spare parchment lying around….   What ever he did, he found the closest thing to start writing and he started to record, with his scarred hands and his parched soul, words from Jesus that we read in this book of Revelation.  It’s this book that’s written to an empire.  It’s written to a church in the midst of an empire.  It’s written to a church that’s barely holding on.  It’s written to a church that’s seen it’s people dragged away and stuck on Roman crosses.  It’s seen it’s pastor trying to be boiled in scalding hot oil.  It’s seen things that we couldn’t possibly imagine seeing.  And THIS letter, before it’s about any events that are going to happen in the future, is about a person who stands above the future.  Before it’s about a dragon eating a virgin, whatever you take that to mean, it’s about Jesus who stands above it all.  It’s written to a really direct group of people.  It’s written to churches in the midst of an empire.  It’s written to churches who are trying to survive and trying to have influence when they have absolutely no power.  It’s written to a group of people who are barely, barely, barely holding on.  It’s written with the message ‘the powers that be won’t always be the powers.’

The book of Revelation is what we’re going to be studying over the next nine weeks.  We’re going to be studying the letters to the seven churches, which this whole letter is addressed to.  You may be aware of this, or you may not, there’s a little bit of debate around the book of Revelation.  I’ve seen two equally damaging or dangerous approaches to Revelation.  One is ignorance—We could have absolutely no idea what’s actually going on, so let’s just stay away from this book.  Let’s not touch it.  Chapter 12 is about a dragon trying to eat a virgin and I don’t know what to do with that, so let’s just put it on the shelf and forget about it.  The other approach is obsession where everything comes back to the book of Revelation.  The newspaper’s opened and we’re going whoa, it could be this and it could be that and it could be this….    This just in, they’ve been doing that for the last couple hundred years.  They haven’t nailed it yet.  We might not nail it this time!

So there’s obsession and there’s ignorance.  What I’d like to propose to you is that maybe there’s a different way to read this book.  Maybe there’s a better way to read this book.  Maybe there’s a way that’s more true to what this book ACTUALLY is intending to do.  The very word ‘revelation,’ is the first word in the Greek in this letter that John gets from Jesus, through John to the churches.  In the Greek, it’s this word ‘apocalypse,’ which we give a negative association to.  It literally just means ‘unveiling.’   It’s as though the Spirit of God is pulling the curtain back and going okay, so this is what’s on the horizon.  But more important than what’s on the horizon is WHO is on the throne.  That’s what Revelation is all about.

Revelation is written in a style of literature that’s called ‘apocalyptic literature.’  Apocalyptic literature means John’s going to use symbols.  John’s going to use pictures.  John’s going to use numbers in order to tell a story that’s deeper and more significant than just what’s on the surface.  At some points, Revelation almost reads like a graphic comic book.  It’s pretty interesting.  We don’t have this type of literature in any sort of prominence in our day and time today so it can be difficult to understand what John’s talking about.  But it’s NOT difficult to understand why Jesus gives John this letter.  The reason Jesus gives John the letter of Revelation to give to the churches is because the churches are getting beat up.  The churches feel like hope is slipping away.  The churches look all around them and go, we could have sworn….   We saw Him, we touched Him, we heard Him.  He was in the ground and we thought he was dead.  He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven and . . . THIS existence doesn’t seem like it coincides with THAT reality.  Anyone want to say, “I get that?”

At the beginning of the year we look back at the last year, and we look forward to what the new year’s going to bring.  We carry in these hopes and we carry in these dreams.  It’s about this time or the beginning of February we realize that it really is an artificial change to just flip a calendar and expect that everything’s going to be new, right?  We go into the new year with new hopes, but with the same reality.  I know some of your lives and you’re  asking that question, “God, where are you?”  God, what are you doing?  God, if you really do rule and you really do reign then why in the world does my life and your world look the way that it looks?  I’m glad you asked that.  Revelation is . . . . I’m not sure it’s going to answer that question, but it’s at least going to speak to it and it’s going to speak to people that have that question.

If you have your Bible, open to Revelation 1:1-3.  This is what Jesus writes through John to the churches.  The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.  He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.  Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.    So two times in the opening stanza of Revelation we’re going to get okay, there’s things that must SOON take place . . . the time is NEAR.   As we read the book of Revelation, here’s just a rule of thumb . . . if it can fit with what happened NEAR and SOON to what John is writing, we should assume that that is what Jesus meant.  Because that’s what he says his intention is.  Now, certainly, some of the things are future things, but some of them fit with the Roman Empire and Domitian and what’s going on in John’s world.  But, make no mistake about it, He expects that we would read it, that we’d hear it, and that we would do it.

Just so you don’t think I’m lying to you, there’s a very specific audience that John is writing to.  Verse 4 — John to the seven churches that are in Asia.  {That’s Asia Minor.  If you jump down to verse 11, he’ll say this:}  Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.   It’s a network of churches that’s in what is now modern-day Turkey.  The letters were, it looks like, intended to be taken, along with the rest of the letter of Revelation, and delivered to each of these churches.  Can you imagine what it must have been like to get a letter with the return address that said From: Jesus?  That’s what’s going on.   This is no insignificant thing.  John wants to say, “I know you’ve had friends that have been crucified.  I know that they tried to boil me alive.  I get it, we’re walking through the fire, quite literally sometimes.”  In fact, what John is going to say is that he is in the midst of and a partner with them in tribulation.  It’s pressing in, it’s the pressure cooker, it’s the Instant-Pot of the first century.  It’s pressing in on the churches.  It’s in that situation that Jesus writes.   He wants to bring hope.  He wants to bring healing.  He wants to bring restoration, because life real, real easily can feel like the pressure cooker.

There’s a movie that came out over this Christmas break called Downsized.  I haven’t seen it.  I’ve just heard about it and read the plot.  A group of scientists develop a way to shrink people, so that their resources go further, so that they can enjoy some of the normal things in life but on an elevated scale, where they take on a whole new meaning and a whole new sense of pleasure.  {Ryan showed picture from movie.}  I thought 2017 felt like this to a lot of people I know.  It felt like nothing went right and the world around them grew and fear grew and they started to shrink.  I watched, with many of you, the memorial service for the officer who was shot last Sunday morning.  It’s easy in our world with a death….and a death like that that is so public and so painful, somebody who’s given his life to protect and serve.  We watch and weep with Gracie Parrish, don’t we?  That this is the kind of world that we live in.  We can look at our current political landscape and regardless of what side of that you’re on, can we all agree that it’s a fearful thing to live in a world where leaders and presidents have a button on their desk that can detonate a nuclear bomb?  I don’t care if you’re pro or against, that’s a scary world to live in.  Here’s what it can start to do.  It can make you go, “Man, God, where in the world are you?”  It feels like fear has us in this pressure cooker.  It feels like sadness.  It feels like depression.

The churches in the first century would go, “Oh, we get that!  We get that!”  And Jesus says, “I’ve got a word for you.”  John says, “I’ve got a word for you.”  There’s a bigger story being told and here’s the story.  Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his thrones, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.   In the first chapter of Revelation alone, Jesus is mentioned either by name or personal pronoun thirty-two times.  So John goes, “I’ve got a word for you.  Actually, better than that, I’ve got a name for you.”  If you’re walking through the fire, if you’re holding onto hope and it’s a slippery thing to hold onto, I’ve got a word for you—His name is Jesus.  Here’s what John wants to communicate in this letter of Revelation:  When Jesus is upsized, fear is downsized, and life is supersized.  That’s what he wants to say!  He wants to go alright you seven churches around the Mediterranean region, lift your eyes up, because the Jesus who walks among you….  Sure, fear wants to downsize you.  Hopelessness wants to downsize you, but there’s a Jesus who walks among you that’s not downsized.   I said ‘upsized.’  It’s probably better to just say ‘real sized.’  This is the Jesus who walks among them.  As the text says, he’s the faithful witness, he’s the conqueror of the grave and he’s the ruler of the kings of the earth.  I’ll say it again, before Revelation is ever about a plan, it’s about a person.  A person who stands above it all.  {Will you look up at me for a moment?}  My conviction is it’s not the size of our issues and our problems that are the real issue.  Every problem we have, we measure in relationship to how big our God is. It’s not actually the problem that’s the issue, it’s how we’ve minimized our God.  If we want to walk in abundance, if we want to walk in life, we’ve got to see the Jesus that the Scriptures describe.  That stands above the circumstances that we walk through, the pain that we hold onto, the regrets that we have, the ‘I wish I would have but I didn’t’ conversations that we replay in our brain, over and over and over.  It’s not the problem that’s the issue, it’s the smallness of our God.  What John wants to do in Revelation, like putting air into a balloon….he goes okay, okay, okay, I know all this stuff that’s going on, I know all the difficult situations.  We’re in tribulation, we’re in the pressure cooker, I get it!  But Jesus. . .Jesus is bigger than you could ever possibly….   Lift your eyes up, he’d say.  So that’s what I want to do over the next few minutes.  I just want to lift our eyes up, because I have this conviction that when Jesus is upsized, fear is downsized, and life is supersized.  I want him to supersize me!  I want that life that he has for us.

Let me give you three truths that invite us into this reality that we see in the first section of Revelation.  Here’s the framework I want to use.  If you’re looking for a book that might help you understand the entire letter of Revelation a little bit better, I cannot recommend Reverse Thunder by Eugene Peterson highly enough.  He says in this book: “Without Jesus as the controlling center, the Bible is merely an encyclopedia of religion with no more plot than a telephone directory.”  He says Jesus is at the center of it all!  The whole story points to Him!  He’s who we’re going to talk about.  He’s who the letter is written about.  Here’s the way John begins his content:  Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. 

The first thing Jesus wants his audience to know is that he reigns above it all.  He’s going listen, I know that there’s an emperor who’s name is Domitian who’s requiring you to worship and to bow the knee.  I know it feels like the Roman empire is never going to be defeated.  It FEELS like hope is something so slippery that it should never even be pursued.  I get it.  But he goes, hey, there’s a bigger reality.  Lift up your eyes and see the truth.  Jesus reigns above it all.  The Scriptures are going to tell us that he reigns in a way that he’s atoned for and conquered sin.  That he has conquered the grave.  That he stands above it all in the universe.  John goes here is the intention in telling you that. . . .so that you would continue to walk and continue to have endurance.  It says it in verse 9:  I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus.  He says that’s why I’m writing to you.  Listen, I know some of what you’re walking through because you invite me in your life and I’m real grateful for that.  I don’t know everything.  I don’t know about the phone call you got this week from the doctor about the health scare.  I know for some of you this is the year you’re going God, we’ve got to see your hand move in a job because we’re just barely hanging on.  God, we’re really praying that this relationship can be restored because we’re offering forgiveness and it doesn’t seem like there’s any progress being made, and God, the pain is just pushing in on us.  I don’t know what situation you bring in these doors today; it’s safe to bring them in.  You don’t have to leave them at the door to come to worship.  I don’t know what kind of situation you’re facing, but I do know that there’s a Jesus who reigns above. . . . . who’s powerful, who’s loving, who’s good, and when we have that view of Jesus in our mind. . . .this elevated, real, big view of Jesus, life starts to take on more of an eternal perspective than getting caught in the weeds of our temporal existence.  So John says to a church in turmoil and tribulation, “Man, he rules and he reigns.  Don’t forget it when you look at the Domitians of your day.”  He stands above them all.

Here’s the second thing he says. He’s going to move from what Jesus is doing and how Jesus is powerful to the way that Jesus wields his power and the reason he uses it and how he uses it on our behalf.  (verse 5b) To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  Isn’t this a beautiful thing?  That Jesus does not sit on his throne in heaven going, okay, I’m just going to be here and you guys bring me all the worship that I deserve.  He could do that, he deserves that.  He goes no, I’m going to use my power in order to advocate for my people.  That’s what he does.  He’s the advocate for us.  He reigns above us and he advocates for us.

I know a lot of people who, at the beginning of a new year, ask God for a ‘word’ for the year.  As I read through this text, I was thinking that those are three great words.  If you’re looking for your word for this year, for 2018, may I throw out three options?  What if this year you started to learn to live as ‘the beloved?’  There’s no greater gift you can give yourself than to move into the reality that you are loved by the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the One who stands and rules and reigns above it all.  It’s the deepest truth about you, and I don’t care what kind of past you have, and I don’t care what kind of road you’ve walked down and mistakes you’ve made, you’ve got those in your head, but I want to tell you that Jesus paid for those on the cross.  So you can let them go!  And enter into a life of being the beloved.  Maybe this is the year for that for you.

Or maybe this is the year that you go, I want to embrace the freedom that’s mine in Christ.  That’s why I love our Celebrate Recovery Ministry so much.  Because Jesus not only died for the punishment of sin, but He died to release you from the power of it also.  And you don’t have a weak advocate.  You don’t have an advocate who’s going, I wish I could but my hands are tied here.  No, he’s going, I’ve done this; the prison cell’s open, walk out!  We’re like, oh, let me pray about it.  The door’s open, come on!  Maybe this year you go, I’m going to embrace the reality and live in the truth that I’m free.

Or maybe you start to go, He’s not only loved me and He’s freed me, He’s made me.  Maybe this is the year you start to go alright, God, I’m going to discover who you’ve made me to be.  I’m going to discover the things that make me tick, the things that I’m good at.  I can list a hundred things I’m bad at, but maybe this year is the year I step into well, here’s how you’ve gifted me, and here’s how you’ve wired me, and here’s the things you’ve put deep inside of me.  I’m made to be a priest . . . . a bridge builder.  One who points people to Jesus and invites them back to the Father.  That’s what the word priest means—-it’s a bridge builder, someone who is a bridge between humanity and God.

He is advocating for you.  I just want to remind you that that means you can have an empowered reality.  An empowered TODAY.  But you can’t be empowered if you’re living in fear.  So this is the word that John wants to speak.  Jesus rules.  Jesus reigns.  Jesus loves.  Jesus frees.  Jesus makes.  He transforms people into his image.  He reigns above us.  He advocates for us.

Then John says this in verse 12:  Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, {Isn’t that interesting? To see the voice speaking to me?  You can almost picture him writing this.}  …and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands.   A lampstand would have been a reference to the temple.  The temple had a number of lampstands in it.  They had oil in them, and the oil would be lit in order to light up the temple.  But there was more significance than in and of itself.  All throughout Scriptures, the lampstands signified the spirit and presence of God.  So Jesus is among. . . . .he’s going, alright, He’s walking. . . . . His person is walking amongst the spirit and presence of God.  In verse 20 he’s going to tell us exactly what those lampstands are.  As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.    As if to say, that the churches, the local churches, the thing that we do not just on Sundays, but this thing that we are.   Like as we did over this Christmas holiday. . . .as we hold out hope,  as we bless our city, as we serve in a number of different areas, as we invite homeless people to come and stay at our church.  As we do all those things and as we gather in worship, we host the presence of God.

But John goes on.  He doesn’t just say you host—-and in the midst of the lampstands {In the middle of those churches.}  one like a son of man…     It’s a reference to Daniel 7.  It’s Jesus’s favorite title for himself.  The son of man moves in our midst.  He’s above us, he advocates for us, and he walks among us.  This caught my heart this week.  As I was working through these. . . . .I had theological concepts in the book of Revelation and trying to figure out how to present it to you.  I was struck by the reality that we can trivialize what we do as a community so easily, and we can miss the fact that Jesus walks among us.  Think about that for a moment.  John wants to tell you what Jesus is like as he walks among us, but He doesn’t stand off in the distance.  Certainly, He rules and He reigns and He’s comfortable on his throne, but He is not adverse to walking and moving and breathing among us.  John tells us what He’s like as He does that.  As He moves among us, He’s. . . .clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.  {It’s a picture of a priest.  You can read Exodus 29:5.  It’s a picture of what a priest would wear when they would stand between God and humanity, being the bridge, and Jesus stands in our midst as our perfect bridge between us and God.  He’s clothed in priestly garments.}  The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow.  His eyes were like a flame of fire… {When He looks at us, he sees into the deepest places of our soul.  That’s what it means when it talks about his eyes.  It’s not to condemn you, because we may go, oh no, that’s not good.  I don’t know if I want Jesus to see into the deepest places of my soul.  Well, he sees all the good; he sees all the things that we’re struggling with.  The fiery eyes are this picture of refining.  So we don’t do ourselves any good when we try to hide, because it’s actually letting him see us as he walks among us that does the work that we need done, the transformation that’s available in him.}

It says:  ….his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace…   It’s a reference to Daniel 2:31-45, where Nebuchadnezzar has this dream, and the feet of the person in his dream are clay mixed with iron, and when they get hit, the whole structure falls over because the foundation is so weak.  What it’s saying about Jesus here is that his foundation is unsinkable.  He’s the one who was, who is, who is to come.  He holds the keys of Death and Hades.  He’s not going ANYWHERE.  He’s worthy of your trust.  The foundation is secure.

It goes on to say:  …and his voice was like the roar of many waters.    Like water coming over a waterfall or rushing through a raging river.  You know that there’s ways that you can say things that illicit a little bit more meaning behind them.  My wife Kelly teaches high school English and she has what we call a teacher’s voice.  She can say something with a teacher’s voice—-Hey, pick up those shoes—-and immediately my hands are full of shoes!  I’m like yes, ma’am!  What they’re saying about Jesus is that his voice carries authority.

In his right hand he held seven stars,  {The seven known fixed planets in the ancient world.  What John is saying and what Jesus is communicating about himself is I reign above the cosmos.  I do as I please.  This is all mine.  As Abraham Kuyper, the great theologian, said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” }  ….from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword…   {When he says something, it holds up, it’s true.}  …and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.    Don’t come to me and complain about how bright our lights are, I’ll just tell you we’re preparing you for heaven!  His face is shining brightly, as if to say he’s full of joy.  In heaven we won’t need these lights, because he just lights the whole place up.  THIS, THIS, is the Jesus who walks among us.

So I started to think. . . . alright, I don’t just want you to go, that’s awesome!  What I’d love for you to do is say, man, that raises my anticipation.  That this Jesus is in our midst.  Let me give you a few practices to use throughout this week.  These may work for you, they may not.  These are some that I’ve practiced and that I love.  Here are some real practical ways that you can say, alright, I want to interact with Jesus, because that’s what he’s inviting us to.  He walks among us for personal interaction.  How do we do that?  Here’s a few ways you can do that.   What if this week you went on a walk and you were uber aware and intentional of the things around you, and you just had a conversation with Jesus about them?  Wow, Jesus, that’s a really nice bird.  Wow, Jesus, I really wish my lawn looked like that guy’s lawn.  Which, by the way, Jesus, how does he keep it so green in the winter?  Or—maybe you walk pass somebody and you go, Lord, I don’t know what’s going on in their life, but I just want to lift them up to you.  Or maybe this you pick a day and you drive with the radio off in your car.  I get in my car and turn on sports/talk radio.  What about—-this is one I’ve been trying to practice this week—-as you interact with people. . . .maybe it’s over lunch or maybe it’s with your kids. . . . .as you interact with people you try to train yourself to pray for them as you’re talking with them?  God, is there anything you want me to say to this person?  Maybe as you drive with the radio off on the way back from work, you sort of debrief how you did on all these things you said you’d do.  Man, Lord, I really blew that one, didn’t I?  Like when I said that thing to that person, that didn’t help at all, did it?  Jesus, I’m not sure that’s something you would have said.  Maybe—-I’d like an opportunity tomorrow to say what you’d say.  Would you open my eyes to those?  Maybe you start paying special attention to your circumstances.  You might be in a situation this week where you’re having to wait for something you scheduled to happen at a certain and it didn’t happen.  But there might be something the Spirit of God wants to say to you in that moment.  You could be frustrated and angry or you could be attentive.  But you can’t be both.  You can be angry or you can be attentive, but you can’t be both.  Maybe this week you pay attention to some of the random thoughts that come into your mind.  You ask God, is there something you’re trying to say to me?  What’s that thought all about?  Is there somebody I need to forgive?  Do I need to let go of that?  Is this something you’re moving me beyond?  Is this the time to make that phone call, send that text, have that conversation?  Or maybe, maybe, as we’re worshipping as a community—-because He’s among us—-we go Lord, help me be attentive to what you say during these times of worship.  As we sing You stand alone and I stand amazed, maybe the thought in the back of your head is it’s been a long time since I’ve stood amazed.  Instead of heaping condemnation and guilt on yourself, you just go maybe that’s an invitation, this week, to stand amazed.  Here’s the conviction—-Jesus is in our midst.  The invitation is to become a detective to figure out where and how, and to hear his voice.  Because that’s the great invitation.

Here’s how John closes the section:  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.  But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one.  I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.  What starts out as fear turns into WORSHIP.  It’s this transition that Jesus takes John on that I believe He wants to take us on too, because worship is the foundation.  As Jesus grows, as Jesus is upsized, fear is downsized, and life becomes supersized.  Worship is the foundation of fearless living!

There’s one more way you and I encounter the Jesus among us.  It’s through this table.  Through this table we come to remember, but we don’t come ONLY to remember.  We also come to experience.  We come to meet with the God who is present in a unique and special way. . . . .in this bread and in this cup.  As you come this morning, if you’re a follower of Jesus, the table is open to you.  As you come this morning, would you come with conviction that Jesus walks around in our midst?  That he wants to meet with you.  That He is above, that He’s advocating for, and that He is among us.  May we, together, encounter this Jesus as we come to His table.  Let’s pray.

Lord, as we come now, we do so with a heart of worship and anticipation, even now, would your Spirit speak to us?  As we come up to this table and we hold this bread and this cup, would you remind us of why we’re doing this as we think about your death and resurrection and your promise to us?  But, Lord, also would you speak to us and would you meet us, in a real way, as we come and celebrate this Eucharist?  We pray it in the name of Jesus.  Amen.