Thursday, April 10, 2008

But What Does It Mean?

I am supposed to read a bible passage (Rev 7: 9-17) at Big Daddy's service on Saturday. Apparently, he chose what he wanted to have read at his funeral service, so I am happy to oblige. But I have read the passage that I am to recite at the service over and over, and I am still not sure what it means. And this bothers me. Why can't I understand it better?

I stopped going to church regularly when I was 20, in 1986. Before that, I went to Sunday school, church services Sunday morning and night, and Wednesday classes. Since then, I have attended church mostly for weddings and funerals, and occasionally just because. The last time I went to a church service that was not a wedding or a funeral, it was with Big Daddy. It was probably 3-4 years ago, and I knew he would enjoy taking me, so I invited myself along. I was raised in a sort of generic protestant denomination. My husband (PDM) was raised Catholic. Big Daddy was Episcopalian during the last years of his life (he used to go to the same church I grew up in, which was not episcopalian, but that was many years ago). PDM tried to help me interpret the verses, but I still don't claim to understand them.

Am I the only one feeling lost about this kind of thing? I am sure that the readings are supposed to make one feel better. I should feel comforted, but I don't. I can't wrap my mind around "forever" or "infinity", when I really try to. Is it easy for other people? It isn't for me - it is an existential struggle that I fight every day. What does it really mean? I have no idea. I wish I did.

8 comments:

wa11z said...

Although not a Christian, I take those verses as meaning that passing from this world takes us into another where all things go. That which is whole and complete and which we are merely manifestations of. Consider your life as a small facet of this many faceted jewel which shines through everyone and everything, if only briefly. We return to the source on our passing and those that have come before have forgotten much like we have about coming from the source. And yet, we are joined together again within a spiral that continues far beyond what our earthly senses can possibly comprehend.

fermicat said...

Beautifully stated. And you are making a lot more sense than Revelations.

magnetbabe said...

If it seems easy for other people, they are underestimating the notion of infinity. Once you start to think about these things, it can quickly spiral into an existential crisis. I would say that passage in Revelations is one of the ways people grappled with these questions when we knew even less than we know now. But I do like wa11z's interpretation very much.

Kathleen said...

I like wa11z's interpretation.

I'm not a huge fan of Revelations as that seems to be where more Born Agains like to hang out. I viewed this to mean that you're to take comfort that Jesus died for our sins which paved the way for our eternal reward with God.

Like I said, I prefer wa11z'a view...

tiff said...

Kathleen and I agree - that even though there seemed to have been only the 144,000 'sealed' by God, there are multitudes of us from all walks of life, all tribes as it were, who can find a place in eternity with God through acceptance of Jesus. It's kind of a nice thought, to know that a simple thing like that can find you in the company of angels and saints for all eternity. ;)

LL said...

What does it mean? Well... you've got to take it in context to know that. Unfortunately, the context is not exactly good funeral material, but alas... you didn't select it, he did.

The way I read it, the great multitude that come out of the tribulation are the remnants of the earth after the tribulation. Those are the elect spoken of in Matthew 24:22.

Now if you're trying to make it fit a funeral, I'm not sure how it would, but if Big Daddy picked it out, read it as if it belonged.

Personally I suspect that he intended you to focus on the final verses of the passage, namely never being hungry, or thirsty, or suffering, and having their tears wiped away by God.

fermicat said...

Thanks for the help with this. I made it through it without making too big of an idiot of myself. There are a lot of run-on sentences in that passage, and I was getting choked up thinking about Big Daddy. Being unfamiliar with what goes on in his denomination (Episcopal) did not make it an easier - unfamiliar services always make me uncomfortable because I don't know what to do.

But the three people who spoke about Big Daddy all did an excellent job and were wonderful. The party afterwards and then hanging out with the family was also good. But now I'm ready to settle in with a glass of red wine and some Torchwood, and maybe hit the sack early tonight. Time to move on with some NORMAL for a change. But tomorrow is soon enough.

opit said...

Late for your duty I see. One of the hardest things to do it get up and 'perform' when carrying out a request of the bereaved. When you're one, it scarce bears thinking about.
Revelations of St. John the Divine ( being distinct from any other John )is one of the oddest 'books' of the Bible ( collection ). I recall an old church edition being prefaced with an injunction not to interpret it !