Our second reading today is Revelation 1:4b-8.

How do we describe God? That's probably one of the hardest, and most central, questions in the entire Bible. As Christians, we see this story play out and be expanded in trying to discover who Jesus is, why he came, and where Jesus comes from. The disciples believe him to be the Messiah but they don't fully understand what Jesus is doing. The Romans and religious leaders view Jesus as a political revolutionary who is undermining their power and authority. And many experience Jesus as a miracle worker who keeps telling them to be silent about the work that he is doing. God is full of mystery, but a mystery that is revealed to us in God's Son, who reveals what God is doing for us and for the world. Today, 2000 years after Jesus' death, we are still on that journey, looking at Jesus' story to discover the God who is with us and with the world. 

The book of Revelation is the last book in the New Testament and our bible. It's also very odd. The images and descriptions in this book are filled with dragons, mystical creatures, giant thrones, and flying cities. The author is named John who is describing a vision of heaven. He's trying to give hope to churches in Asia who are being persecuted for their beliefs. As the Romans try to destroy their beliefs and practices through violence, torture, and death, John offers a vision of hope for them. God hasn't abandoned them. Christ is, right now, with them. The Romans can't pull them away from the Lord who loves them and who won't let them go. 

In our opening verse today, John describes God as the one "who is and who was and who is to come..." This is an odd way to describe time. The present comes before the past and the future. But that's a perfect way to describe God. The stories we read in Scripture aren't stories only for the past. They are stories about today because they show, over and over again, that God cares about us now. God is here. God is present. God is with us today. That's grace. That's good news. And that's God's commitment to us, always.