29th January 2023

The New Testament reading from the lectionary this week is Revelation 12.1–5. I would be surprised if your morning worship yesterday included a sermon on that passage. It is a little story about a pregnant woman whose baby is snatched away by God into heaven, before the new-born child can be devoured by a red dragon crouching at the woman’s feet. It is a story that would not be out of place in an episode of Game of Thrones or maybe in a Hammer Horror movie. But in the Bible? What do we make of it?

Let me suggest that we do not try interpret the “meaning” of the vision. (There are books and commentaries full of fanciful ideas, if you really want to go down that route.) Rather, just picture the scene – mull it over in your imagination. How does it make you feel? Can you relate those feelings to the world you know?

You may be drawn to think of the Christmas story, where Mary gave birth to Jesus and immediately the new family fled to Egypt to escape from the murderous intentions of King Herod.

Or perhaps the pregnant woman is living in Gaza, trapped in the ruins of her home, with inadequate water, food or medical care, terrified of what will happen to her child.

Maybe your imagination takes you to a similar scene in Israel, Ukraine, Yemen… any number of places where ‘dragons’ lurk to take away the children.

Imagination can lead us to empathize.

Empathy can help us to pray.

And prayer changes things.

Ian Waddington