Dear Church…

Our worship series on the Book of Revelation will be jumping around quite a bit to look at the book more thematically than narratively.  This makes sense because going straight through the book would both take far longer than a month and would likely lead to the overwhelming feelings that many of us have experienced when trying to make sense of all the imagery used in Revelation.  One of the parts that we will miss, however, is a section in chapters 2 and 3 where the narrator delivers messages from Christ to seven early Christian communities.  These brief letters to the seven churches are interesting partially because the writer is so bluntly honest and partially because they provide a snapshot of what life was like for early Christian congregations. 

A few weeks ago I joked with Joel that he needed to give everyone homework to write their own “Letter to the Mennonite Church in Columbus.”  This was mostly a joke because I think I was somewhat nervous thinking about the kinds of responses we might get.  Would we, like the church in Ephesus, be reminded that we had “abandoned the love you had at first”?  Or would we be more like the church in Sardis, who needed to be told that they should wake up because they appeared alive but were actually dead?  Perhaps we are a bit like the church in Laodicea, vomited out by Christ because we are lukewarm.  Maybe we are like the churches in Pergamum and Thyatira, both of which are charged in their letters with following false teachers.  Out of all seven communities, the church in Philadelphia is the only one that comes off in a mostly positive light, yet much tribulation is also promised for them. 

In many ways, the contexts of these early Christian communities are very different from our own.  At the same time, as we continue to study the rest of Revelation and learn about the complex imagery of the lamb and the beast, I think we will begin to see important parallels that don’t let us hide so easily behind excuses about contexts. 

So what message would Christ send to the Mennonite Church in Columbus?  How would Christ describe us?  What things do we need to hear? 

Following the general formula and tone of the letters in Revelation, below is my best attempt at a letter from Christ to our community.  I hope you will keep in mind that I am part of you, so this is as much (if not more) a letter to me as to you.


And to the angel of the Mennonite church in Columbus write: These are the words of the One who makes all things new: “I know your works; you are a bright star, accomplished in many ways.  The abundance of your graces shine through the land.  You have committed yourself to peace even in the midst of a world mired in violence.  But I have a few things against you: your peacemaking has become constrained by the bounds of comfort.  I do not desire a people who are simply nice but a people who are willing to disrupt social niceties when they become veils for injustice.  You have much to offer this world in both word and deed, but do not cling so tightly to what is good that you do not recognize the good that others cling to as well.  Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.  To everyone who conquers, I will show the way to make all things new, all families, all communities, all nations, and all people. 


I would love to hear what message Christ is sending to our community through you?