Thursday, December 23, 2010

Advent and Apocalypse: The Church at Philadephia

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth , and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

It doesn't matter who we are, we are weak, fallible and imperfect. We can be a big cathedral community, or a little parish in the backwaters of Kent, but we are all weak and surrounded by beings which are set out to destroy us. They present themselves with faces of our ethnicity, our denomination, even tragically with the faces of our families and friends.

It's easy for us to fear. These forces are much bigger and stronger than we are and cause us to fall time and again in the same ways. We are encouraged to despair, give up and just go with the flow. So what do we do?

We present a man.

We present a weak, frail, imperfect man who through His Death was perfected and has taken back the strength and understanding that He laid aside in order to open the door to our safety. The door opens, the light floods in, and while the black catcalling mass of Darkness still pulls at us and drags us to fall again, we find our support. Like the soft, vulnerable limpet or barnacle, we harden into living rock with hearts of flesh, building and supporting each other until this impervious edifice stands immovable before the darksome world and passes into the light beyond the door which is shut to the darkness.

Assist us in our weakness, Most Loving Heavenly Father, and while being impatient with our sin, help us to be patient with the frailty of ourselves and our brethren whom Thou commandest us to love; that as we reach out for Thee in the dark, we may be comforted by Thy marvellous light until such time as Thou shalt bring us through the door to Thine Eternal Glory in the mercy of Thy Son and comfort of the Holy Spirit whom with Thee art ever one God now and forever. Amen.

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