Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The End of Days

My good friend was visiting, and was late the first day of our visit, arriving breathless, and with her arms full of flowers.

“I am so sorry! I am late!” she apologized, “but I could not find a single florist!”

The truth is that she could arrive empty armed and I would love her as much. She doesn’t need to bring me anything, just her coming to see me is enough. It was a wonderful visit, full of laughter and shared moments, time with family and friends.

Florist shops have almost disappeared in Pensacola, and I suspect elsewhere, as hard times continue. Fresh cut flowers are such a luxury, and one of the first things to go when people start cutting back. Times are getting better, but slowly. Flowers are still a luxury. There are a couple shops I know still open, but not many.

Today’s reading is from Revelations, about the end of times, and set my mind adrift about the identity of Babylon (there are many ideas about this) and about God’s time. We may be in the end of times, I muse, but we don’t even know it because God’s time is so different from our earthly time. An instant can be a couple thousand years – we don’t know.

The author of Revelation uses symbolic language and can be a sort of Rohrshach test which tells more about the interpreter than the text interpreted.

 

Revelation 18:1-14

 

18After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority; and the earth was made bright with his splendour.2He called out with a mighty voice,
‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
   It has become a dwelling-place of demons,
a haunt of every foul spirit,
   a haunt of every foul bird,
   a haunt of every foul and hateful beast.* 
3 For all the nations have drunk*
   of the wine of the wrath of her fornication,
and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her,
   and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power* of her luxury.’

4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
‘Come out of her, my people,
   so that you do not take part in her sins,
and so that you do not share in her plagues; 
5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
   and God has remembered her iniquities. 
6 Render to her as she herself has rendered,
   and repay her double for her deeds;
   mix a double draught for her in the cup she mixed. 
7 As she glorified herself and lived luxuriously,
   so give her a like measure of torment and grief.
Since in her heart she says,
   “I rule as a queen;
I am no widow,
   and I will never see grief”, 
8 therefore her plagues will come in a single day—
   pestilence and mourning and famine—
and she will be burned with fire;
   for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.’

9 And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; 10they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,
‘Alas, alas, the great city,
   Babylon, the mighty city!
For in one hour your judgement has come.’

11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo any more, 12cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, 13cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves—and human lives.* 
14 ‘The fruit for which your soul longed
   has gone from you,
and all your dainties and your splendour
   are lost to you,
   never to be found again!’

November 10, 2012 Posted by | Friends & Friendship, Language, Lectionary Readings, Living Conditions | Leave a comment