Sardis: Revelation 3:1-6

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works; you have a name of being alive, but you are dead.

Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Yet you have still a few persons in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.

If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

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3 responses

  1. Wow! Not pulling any punches on this one are we?

  2. This might well be addressed to any nice little church of our day. Even a church loud with praise may just be twitching by reflex, having left too little room for the mind we’re also supposed to love God with.Jonathon Kozol came here a few years ago, spoke at a large Episcopal church about this wretched little parish in the Bronx he’d written about in his latest book. And then they passed around a prayer to be read by all, asking God to provide donations for fixing up the cathedral building here. That illustrates another common form of church death.But I tend to think of my own Society of Friends. My meeting has come very near to death. I continue to find God at work in my personal life, but most of my time at meeting lately I just sit wondering whether this time I will experience anything whatsoever of God, if I will have anything to say to these others who have sat with God so long, who seemingly have nothing to say about it, whose minds remain imprisoned in American middle-brow academic secular culture. We no longer hear many uninspired messages here–or any messages at all. Truly we are starved for lack of hearing the word of the Lord, but few of us show any signs of appetite. And yet good new people continue to show up; the meeting house we couldn’t afford continues to be built (although many of us have feared it would eventually be our tomb)–We are utterly without direction but we are being directed.I came to Friends, already knowing that God is good, powerful, and accessible–and that the Society of Friends was built on people’s experience of that truth. As my meeting’s older members have died off over the years, I’ve found very few of us able and willing to acknowledge that, let alone to build our lives on it. I don’t think we need to call God “Jesus” or to believe fifty impossible things before breakfast, but the lack of any common basis for our practice has left us perfectly boneless. (If my meeting ever did try to unite around their common beliefs, I expect I’d find myself isolated. But it would at least show that we believed some Truth to be real and knowable.)Each year a committee meets to prepare a “state of the society report” which will be duly approved and sent to yearly meeting. Sometimes it’s more accurate, sometimes less so, but never does it read, as it should: “This meeting is dead.” Still I continue to hope for its resurrection!)

  3. Now this is what I was hoping for — which of these 7 churches looks most like the churches/meetings we know best. I was waiting for Laodicea actually.

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