Revelation 2:8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life: 9 “I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.
Smyrna – amongst the largest of the cities in the Mediterranean – was a beautiful port city with an estimated population approaching 200,000 people. Due to its defensible port and its good inland connections, Smyrna was became a wealthy city.
It was also the city of Bishop Polycarp. In 155 AD he was asked to recant his faith or lose his life: “86 years have I served him” Polycarp declared, “and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?” This makes the words of Revelation 2 vs 10 particularly poignant: “be faithful until death”.
Christians do not escape hardship, or struggle, or death. But Christ-followers can choose to escape fear through confronting the things that frighten us through our faithful courage.
Ordinary 27 / Pentecost +20
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 298.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.
 An ancient city located at a central and strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia. It is now called Izmir.