Our church has been preaching from the book of Revelation in recent weeks, so I chose words from that book to lead our congregational response to the events of this past week at Mother Emanuel.
â€œThere in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne!â€
We come to you, Almighty God, because we believe this-that you indeed occupy the throne of heaven and earth.
This week we have seen a beast of Revelation proportions-we have seen racism in its most evil conclusion. We have looked wrath, hatred, and sin in the face and watched their fruits flow as blood through the sanctuary of your people. We have lost brothers and sisters. Pastors, servants, faithful witnesses. People who committed themselves to studying your word and to prayer. People who opened their door and welcomed and blessed a stranger.
â€œI saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; they 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?’â€
We join our voice with churches throughout our nation today, and we cry: â€œCome, Lord Jesus!â€
â€œThen I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throneâ€
Remind us of this game-changer, God. The truth that our Savior, our Redeemer, the one through whom we are victorious, stands in heaven as one who is slain. Remind us that our victory comes through suffering. Our conquering comes through sacrifice. Evil is conquered by forgiveness, mercy, and love.
â€œWorthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!â€
And now, dear Father, we ask that you would come this morning. Send your Holy Spirit to us with the ministry of conviction of our own sin: personal sin, corporate sin, sins of omission and sins of indifference. May we hear your voice, in the midst of the horror of Charleston, South Carolina and Mother Emanuel Church, which we confess we could choose to keep at a distance. To the Church in Laodicea you gave this invitation:
â€œThose whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.
Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me… Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.â€