By Michael Smith

A Reading from Revelation 12:1-12 

1 A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. 3 Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. 5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

7 And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Messiah,
for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down,
who accuses them day and night before our God.
11 But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.
12 Rejoice then, you heavens
and those who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you
with great wrath,
because he knows that his time is short!”

Meditation

We know the end of the story, but we live in the time between the evil one’s deception of our first parents and his ultimate defeat won by Christ’s victory over sin and death. Today’s lesson from Revelation warns that “the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Peter reminds us that he “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Known by a number of names and titles, he is referred to as “the father of lies” in the Gospel of John (8:44).

I was recently reminded of yet another one of his lies. Last week the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre was observed. Having grown up in Oklahoma, the historic tragedy was referred to as the Tulsa Race “Riot,” a misleading term at best if not a blatant falsehood. Rather than Black protesters burning down their own community, the truth is that, in a scene straight from hell, a white mob killed up to 300 Black residents and destroyed their neighborhood, leaving 10,000 people homeless.

When we are baptized into the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, we “renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God” (BCP 302). Yes, God wins in the end, but in the meantime, vigilance in truth-telling and continued renunciation of evil such as racism are crucial parts of our calling.

Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for fifteen years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Massachusetts
The Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma)