Scripture: Revelation 1:17-2:7
Key verse: (4) “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”
Reflection: What is it about new love that is so energizing (sometimes exhaustingly energizing)? Do you remember the first time you said “I love you.”? Did friends or family notice your new found love, recognizing a pep in your step or possibly new habits or ways of living that complemented the one you love? In your new commitment and love did you perhaps take up exercising again, eating better, taking better care of yourself so you can better care for another. But over time, so often even with our best intentions and our strong love and commitment, the habits that we formed in our love go away. We often fall back into old and easy routines, and while the love may still be there, the commitment, the desire, the wonder, the excitement, and the energy seem to have faded.
Throughout Revelation, the author writes messages to the early churches founded in the surrounding Mediterranean. As we can see in our passage for today, the writing to Ephesus focus around a once strong love now lost. The community is holding on as best as it can, but having been met with persistent persecution and turmoil, their active love seems to have turned into faithful complacency. Yes, the community does not tolerate evil doers, yes they test messengers to see if they are true or false, yes they endure patiently. But yet, they have turned from their ways, they have forgotten their true love and the practices that went with that love.
Can you relate to the community in Ephesus? Perhaps in a familial, friend, or romantic relationship you have lost what was once core to your values, you have strayed from healthy routines and practices. How about your relationship to the church? When you first started attending church did you enthusiastically commit to healthy practices out of an energizing love? And then life enters in, frustrations arise, turmoil in the world taints our view of those around us, and our love seems to have become complacent. So often whether in the church or in a relationship this change happens gradually and without our notice, and we end up far from where we once were, far from where we want to be.
In this Advent season, this time of waiting for the coming of Christ, may the words of Revelation be a call to fall in love again. Take time to reflect upon how God first called to you; was it a friendship, a study, an opportunity to serve, a mission partner? Revisit that young love and what kept you energized, and this Advent try to work back to those healthy habits you once had. For as we await Christ’s coming, what a joy it will be to be prepared when he arrives!
Prayer: Faithful God, we give you thanks for the love which you ignite within us. Rekindle that love, that we may in turn love you and our neighbors. Through Christ we pray. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].