Thursday, November 1, 2018


Today is the Solemnity of All Saints.   Our Gospel reading from Revelations begins:  I, John, saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God.  He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, "Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."  I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the children of Israel.

This reading can be disturbing if misinterpreted.  After we have the seal of the living God on our foreheads the land, sea and trees will be “damaged” by five angels.    This doesn’t seem very angelic or saintly.  Then again, this is Revelations in which all sorts of spooky things are said to have occurred.   Perhaps post-Halloween this reading fits. 

We are all given the power to damage the land, sea, or trees.  This we do this through our wasteful practices and global thirst for energy sources that are warming the atmosphere and changing the ocean and coastal landscapes.    Tropical trees and forests continue to be toppled at alarming rates.  Vicious hurricanes with massive flooding and damage now seem to be the norm.

None of us will have the special seals on our foreheads giving us divine protection.   We all share the Earth, and we all share its despoiling.    The angels from East, West, North, and South all watch and wonder if the planet’s 7.6 billion people – all the tribes competing for space and resources – will wise up to save ourselves.   It’s all quite spooky, indeed.

Deacon David Pierce

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