Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’
Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God: and they will reign on earth.’
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice,
‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!’
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,
‘To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might for ever and ever!’
And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the elders fell down and worshipped.
When I read this passage, three (another good biblical number) images immediately came to mind – a biblical quote and two films
Mark 1:7 John the Baptist says, “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” – This one who came is the one who is worthy to open the seal. One who came to a poor family, in a Biblical backwater, in obscurity, became the one worthy to open the scroll and it’s seven seals.
In Kung Fu Panda (spoiler alert) only the dragon warrior is worthy to open the scroll and find his destiny. Only for the dragon warrior to turn out to be a noodle selling panda! Yet he earned his place and was able to recognise the message of the scroll – even though it was blank!
In Knight’s Tale, Count Adhemar thinks he is way above William – a pauper from Cheapside pretending to be a knight. But at the end (spoiler again), when William knocks him off his horse, he is told “you have been weighed, you have been measured and you have definitely been found wanting” and so the pauper from Cheapside becomes the hero of the day.
Who, then, is worthy in today’s world? Who are our noodle selling pandas and our paupers from Cheapside that we look down on as being unimportant? How can we empower those who feel worthless and value those who are seen as irrelevant? Let us be humble in our service and treasure our differences so that we, too, may reach our potential.
Lord you tell us that the first will be last and the last will be first. Help us never to look down on our neighbour or think of anyone less worthy than ourselves. We are all equal in your sight. Help us instead to serve our neighbour and value our differences that we might celebrate diversity and bring praise to you. Amen
The Reverend Ruth Watson SCM Media City UK Church, Salford Quays