Revelation 4. 1-6.
After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God, and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal.
When I was small, my grandfather had a glass blowing company. Every summer, we would visit the factory. There, glassblowers held punty rods and blew into the kilns, lighting up any debris in flames. The smell of burnt sand filled the air. I did not expect a similar scene in central Hebron, Palestine, while visiting as part of the recent Sabeel-Kairos Young Adult Conference. Hebron, the only city in the West Bank where settlers live within the city, is a flashpoint for the occupation – litter is thrown onto Palestinian shops and violence is regular. In fact, the same market we visited experienced this almost as soon as our tour ended and we had journeyed back to Bethlehem – something we later realised by scrolling social media before dinner.
Thinking back to Hebronite glass blowing and looking at the turquoise jug I bought from the seller, a recognition of the defiance shown by shopkeepers in the face of occupation is needed. Palestinians are not just victims of oppression but construct creative ways of resistance. Glass under heat is malleable and changeable. I pray we mould our attitudes in similar ways and that, through this, we can reach a deeper understanding of both the damaging realities and potential solutions of Hebron’s situation. Another reminder from the act of glass blowing is that it is our breath that gives ideas shape. The Bible is full of breath, “the breath of God” appearing to Elijah in the cave, the notion of “breathing life into being.” Under the pressurising and oppressive heat, we can blow into the fire and create something out of it. Even though Hebron is a fiery and dangerous kiln, beauty can still be found there. A kingdom of glass, like crystal, can be created.
help us to see how your creation serves us in all our life and work,
how your light is transformed within us:
into acts of care and restoration in a time of fear and violence
into words of grace and wisdom, in a time of oppression and occupation.
Teach us the courage to walk in your light
and channel your light in our daily struggles.
We ask this of you, Amen.