The reading from Revelation 22 concludes the book’s resurrection songs: the baptized enjoy the fruits of the tree of life. But the tree is not merely one of the countless archetypal trees that religions and cultures everywhere have imagined.
Although in the final chapter of Luke the ascension occurs on Easter Day, in the Acts of the Apostles the imagery of 40 days intensifies the story line. It is also mythically alive, a time pregnant with a religious future.
The humanitarian plight of Syrian refugees and the terrorist threat of ISIS seem likely to dominate the cable news channels for weeks to come. But it’s unclear whether Christian preachers will continue to discuss these issues now that the season of Advent has arrived.
On the surface there is little connection between ISIS’s campaign of terror and a season that invites us to prepare for the return of Christ.
Isaiah 64:5 speaks to God, saying, “You were angry when we sinned; you hid yourself when we did wrong” (Common English Bible).
It took me a long time to come to terms with the idea of God’s anger. In my own faith, the most helpful idea here is that God is slow to anger. If we forget that God is slow to anger, then God is reduced to a cruel monster out to get us. If we forget anger altogether, then God is reduced to a puppy dog who wants to lick our face no matter what terrible things we continue to do. Both God-the-monster and God-the-puppy-dog are idols: images of God that don’t match what the Bible says.