This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
Always hope for the New Year
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
The Word of God on the white horse
11-13 Then I saw Heaven wide open, and before my eyes appeared a white horse, whose rider is called faithful and true, for his judgment and his warfare are just. His eyes are a flame of fire and there are many diadems upon his head. There is a name written upon him, known only to himself. He is dressed in a cloak dipped in blood, and the name by which he is known is the Word of God.
14-16 The armies of Heaven follow him, riding upon white horses and clad in white and spotless linen. Out of his mouth there comes a sharp sword with which to strike the nations. ‘He will rule them with a rod of iron’, and alone he will tread the winepress of the furious wrath of God the Almighty. Written upon his cloak and upon his thigh is the name, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
This is a fine reading for the first day of the New Year. In Revelation the warfare of God against evil is carried out by the One known as the Lamb, who has been subjected to evil but has won the victory through patient endurance. This One is also known as the Word of God, who rides the white horse of truth. His passionate suffering is symbolised by his cloak dipped in blood and his eyes of flame. The armies of heaven clothed in white are those who have also suffered but have by their commitment to Jesus, won the victory over death.
The nature of God’s warfare is revealed in the name Word of God, and the sword which comes from his mouth. It will be by the truth and justice of his judgement that he wins the victory. His treading of the winepress is his suffering on the cross, his share in the passionate wrath of God which offers love but never compels people to leave the hatred they have chosen for themselves.
Whatever the year, whatever its good, whatever its evil, the prophet of Revelation challenges us to see that this is what is happening. The One on the white horse rides out to do battle with the powers of evil. He is the spiritual power of all truth tellers, all carers, all who oppose oppression and cruelty, all who seek wisdom, all who work for practical goodness, all who suffer for justice, all who suffer from injustice. In them he conquers.