I think that one of my childhood friends invented the concept of twist flavor. At least, that is the way it seemed to me. Way back, in that small town outside of Baltimore, there was a corner store with “penny” candy (most items were a nickel, dime or quarter). In the summertime, the shop owner carried ice cream. I remember going in one time and ordering my vanilla cone. Then he stepped up and the shopkeeper asked him what flavor would he like, vanilla or chocolate? He said, “both.” He chuckled and said something like, i’ll see if I can squish them both into the same cone. I am sure my jaw hit the floor. My friend was a little more sassy and crafty than I was. I thought you had to pick one. Sometimes, it isn’t one or the other, it is both.
As the readings point towards Sunday, “Good Shepherd Sunday” in Eastertide, we see two images of God come into view. From Revelation 5, the lamb slaughtered and triumphant (which is two in itself) and the Good Shepherd who knows the sheep which is the Gospel reading this Sunday. How can this be? Can both flavors of ice cream be in one cone? Silly Andrew, God can be wherever or however God wants to be.
What does that look like, though to see God fulfilling both images? This, surely, must be one of the richest mysteries of Christianity. God crucified and yet victorious. God gentle and leading us by voice. One image is the prime example of power that is even powerful in weakness, unable to be defeated. The other is a humble scene of grass and safety. The knowing and counting eyes contrast against the eyes and horns. The quiet of the outdoors contrast against the loud and lauded singing of a new song. Yet, they are both true. Like chocolate and vanilla twist, the two are delicious together.
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.”
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.