It is my very favorite church season of the year, Advent. I’ve always loved the waiting and the hoping, the preparations, the joy of imagining the coming of this little baby. You’d think that our readings would reflect this ummm. . . errr . .. reflective season, but no! It’s all Zachariah and Amos and Revelations with their horrific visions.
When I read today’s reading from Revelations, I wonder if the horses are not already loosed? We know that our time and God’s time are very different, and it seems to me that those fearsome horses have been hanging around for quite a while.
6Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out, as with a voice of thunder, ‘Come!’* 2I looked, and there was a white horse! Its rider had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering and to conquer.
3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out, ‘Come!’* 4And out came* another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another; and he was given a great sword.
5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature call out, ‘Come!’* I looked, and there was a black horse! Its rider held a pair of scales in his hand, 6and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a day’s pay,* and three quarts of barley for a day’s pay,* but do not damage the olive oil and the wine!’
7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature call out, ‘Come!’* 8I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth.
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; 10they cried out with a loud voice, ‘Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?’ 11They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow-servants* and of their brothers and sisters,* who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed.
12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and there came a great earthquake; the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree drops its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14The sky vanished like a scroll rolling itself up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15Then the kings of the earth and the magnates and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’