There is something about this time of year that I love: the sense of the year's dying underpinned by the anticipatory tingle of Christmas. I feel energised, organised, almost elated by a sense of purpose that defies rational expectation. I write lists, co-ordinate and tidy my workspace, books and papers. I am filled with hope.
It is very fitting, then, that I have started to take a deep interest in apocalyptic literature. That too looks forward to the future overturning of the established order, the perishing of the temporal in a furnace of renewal.
It is generally considered that this genre, particularly the Jewish apocalyptic writings, were developed during periods of oppression and hopeless servitude and that it represents a distant hope that all will come to good despite present indications. I am of the opinion that this may not be true - it seems to me that apocalyptic may be the product of an age that has become complacent and morally lazy and seeks to sting the reader into considering 'the bigger picture' rather that present comfort. This appears to be equally true of the NT Apocalypse of John, written circa 100AD. As Christianity became established and spread, the shock value of the new teachings settled to regularity and acceptance, much the same as the Sunday churchgoer who attends out a sense of duty and habit, but no longer examines his/her faith or motives.
'Revelation' (for that is what the Greek verb 'apokaluptw' means, to reveal/take away a veil) comes as a clarion call to look to those things that need doing NOW, so that we are prepared for the Big Day ahead.