Sister Doreen’s Reflections
The Angel of Ephesus to the church
(Revelation 2: 1-7)
The angel of Ephesus who speaks words of affirmation and encouragement and holds out the challenge of learning to live in the present, to recover our first love and offers the gift of a banquet of the tree of life. In reading and meditating on this passage there were words that stood out for me as I pondered:
- Your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit, your patient endurance.
- But you walked away from your first love, why? Recover your dear early love.
- To the victor, the conquerors, I spread out a banquet from the tree of life.
Dusting off the angel of Ephesus, waiting, taking time, and waiting for the spiritual gifts in the midst of the challenge – the challenge to keep our love for God and for each other alive, and strong, and sure … like it was in the beginning and sometimes begins to pale as time goes on! Perhaps even just taken for granted! It is the challenge to live deeply in the present – dusting off the angel hovering over us and waiting while that angel teaches us to live fully where we are. We can use our experiences, our feelings (of joy, of anger, of resentment, of hurt, of disappointment, of encouragement and achievement…) as opportunities to learn more about ourselves and about each other, to use them as opportunities to recapture that first dear love and to trim our lamp so that it shines more brightly for God and for each other.
I began to ponder the God of little things, of the present moment, with this angel of Ephesus. It was Mother Teresa who first planted the seeds of that phrase in my heart “the God of little things” and the hope that lies within that understanding. She said: “We can do not great things, only small things with great love. It is not how much you do but how much love you put into doing it.” She is known for doing things one at a time … understanding that if we see things as a crowd that needs help, we simply cannot manage. It is built into the God of little things … one person at a time …
Shane Claiborne in his book “Irresistible Radical: living as an ordinary radical” writes: “It is easy to fall in love with the great things, … But we must never simply fall in love with our vision or our five-year plan. We can easily become so driven by our vision for growth, for community, for social justice that we forget the little things, like caring for those around us …”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer echoes these truths when he wrote: “The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community (even if their intentions are ever so earnest), but the person who loves those around them will create community.”
There is the danger of our becoming mesmerized by the dazzle of the light. It can become quite comfortable, like a campfire. We can crawl up into the hands of God and all sleep in the sweet aroma and cozy warmth, asleep by the fire. And so much of the world lies in the cold, clammy darkness of human suffering, oppression, inequality. We must neither get used to the darkness of human suffering or fall asleep in the comfort of the light. That is the challenge the angel of Ephesus holds out for us.
And to this challenge for recapturing our first dear love we hear the angel offering us a gift: saying “I’m spreading a banquet before you …” God’s banquet, and yet I thought how often I stand amid nourishment and starve. How often we stand amid nourishment and starve. We live in the land of plenty, yet we go hungry time and time again. we have the capacity to be filled with all the fullness of God, to feast from the banquet of the tree of life, to sit and have supper with God! Why, I ask myself does it often feel like I am dragging my feet? Why do I live so dimly, so feebly? Why have I lost my first dear love?
The angel of Ephesus gives us strong hints! Messages! Perhaps we live so dimly and with such divided hearts because we have never really learned how to be present with quality to God, to self, to others, to experiences and events, to all created things. We have never learned to gather up the crumbs of whatever appears in our path at every moment … to squeeze the juice out of every experience and situation. We meet all the wonderful gifts held out to us along the way of our daily life only half there! Presence is what we are all starving for – real presence! There is nothing, no thing, no person, no experience, no thought, no joy, no pain that cannot be harvested, plucked from God’s orchard and used as part of the banquet, the nourishment on our journey with God.
So, the blessing of the angel of Ephesus … for my sake have you laboured, here is my banquet, the tree of life.