Revelation 7:9-14

The Big Cheer

By The Rev. Charles Hoffacker

what I am about to say
is meant for you.
people who are older
are welcome to listen in as well.

But first we have to practice,
all of us.
What we need to practice
is what I call the Easter word:
It’s still Easter Season, you know.
Easter Season lasts for fifty days.
And we still have many chances
to say ALLELUIA.
It’s a word we can say very loud sometimes,
so get up on your feet and let’s practice.
Repeat after me: ALLELUIA.[ALLELUIA.] I can’t hear you.  Try it again: ALLELUIA.[ALLELUIA.] That’s better, but let’s have it louder: ALLELUIA.[ALLELUIA.] One more time: ALLELUIA.
That’s good.
You can sit down now.

A long time ago
there was a Christian named John
who was a prisoner on an island called Patmos.
Patmos is in the Mediterranean Sea
off the coast of what is now the country of Turkey.
The reason John was a prisoner
was because the Roman Empire
felt threatened by the Christians.
Unlike some people,
the Christians would not worship the Roman emperor.
They followed a different king, one named Jesus.

One Sunday God gave John
a vision.
It was better than any widescreen
major motion picture you’ve ever seen.
Some of this vision took place on earth.
Other parts were set in heaven.

The part I want to tell you about
takes place in heaven.
I like to call it “The Big Cheer.”

All of us just shouted that Easter word,
And maybe you’ve been in a stadium at a game
where everybody shouted together,
and it felt like the mightiest roar
you’ve ever heard.
But that is nothing
compared to what John tells us about
in “The Big Cheer.”

Suddenly John notices
the greatest crowd he’s ever seen,
too many people for anybody to count,
people from all over the world.
Every one of them is dressed in a white robe
and carrying a palm branch–
like we carried here on Palm Sunday.
They all shout together,

I’m sure you’ve heard about God,
but who, you may be wondering,
is this Lamb everybody’s shouting about?

This Lamb shows up
earlier in John’s vision.
God is sitting on his heavenly throne,
and in his hand is a scroll,
a paper rolled up and sealed not just with one seal,
but with seven seals.
An angel calls out,
“Who is worthy to open the scroll
and break the seven seals?”

What happens next?
Dead silence.
Nobody is found worthy
to open the scroll.
And so John starts to cry.
Why does he cry?
Because to open the scroll
means to make sense of human life,
human history,
all the joy and the pain
that people feel.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful
to find somebody
worthy to open the scroll?

Then one of the people near God’s throne speaks up,
a man dressed in a white robe and a golden crown.
He says to John,
“Do not cry.
See, God’s lion has conquered,
so that he can open and read the scroll.”

Imagine that!
God’s lion!
What do you think this lion looks like?

What John sees next
is the strangest of strange sights.
He expects a lion,
and what he sees is a lamb!

The lamb takes the scroll
from God seated on the throne,
and a cheer goes up!
for God’s lamb can open the scroll
and make sense of our lives, our history,
all the joy and pain that people feel.

Listen carefully when we’re singing in church,
and you may just hear something more:
the big cheer that sounds out still in heaven.

Listen carefully on a quiet spring night
out in the countryside
and you may just hear
that enormous crowd of saints near God’s throne
shouting for joy about the Lamb.

And sometime,
when you are ready to cry
because life seems awful,
remember that God’s lion has conquered,
and SURPRISE! that lion is a lamb.
He is Jesus risen from the dead.

Let’s take part in the big cheer again
along with the saints and angels.
Everybody on your feet,
and on the count of three,
shout that Easter word, ALLELUIA,
for all you’re worth,
and shout it three times.
Ready now.  One.  Two.  Three.[ALLELUIA!  ALLELUIA!  ALLELUIA!]

Copyright 2007 Charles Hoffacker. Used by permission.