Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Advent and Apocalypse: The Church at Sardis

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent . If therefore thou shalt not watch , I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Like one that on a careless road

Enjoys his food and bed,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
And knoweth not the Second Death
Doth close behind him tread.

(With my very sincere apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge).

Back in its military history, Sardis was captured at least twice on the hop, notably by Cyrus. And here the church again is in danger of suffering the same fate for Eternity. It's all very well saying "yes, yes, yes" at the beginning, but it's seeing the task through to the bitter end in order to please the One who gave you the task at the beginning. The fact of the matter is that Sardis is not learning from its own history. This decadent, self-interested city, in its whim to fashion, does not realise that it is dying on its feet. "Faith without works is dead" says St James and the folk of Sardis are revelling in their military strength and failing to build up strength in spiritual matters.

It is the same Christ who gave the spirit to the Church in Sardis, but only a few have earned the right to wear the white robes through careful spiritual growth. It is easy to become complacent with all our physical, scientific and philosophical superiority, but the Christian knows that if he believes that Jesus Christ told the truth, then He is coming back, and will not tell us when, nor will he be alone.

Open the eyes of Thy servants, Most Gracious Lord, to await Thy coming in the clouds. Strengthen their faith and their resolve that the stupor of materialism may not dull the keen edge of the Truth which they carry spiritually and uphold them in the times of adversity, that Thy Church throughout the world may truly work to praise Thy name, even the Name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

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