Bookends. God seems quite fond of them.
No, I don’t mean the novelty ones that look like the Hogwarts Express is tunnelling through your books (though who can know the Lord’s taste in interior décor?). I mean the rhetorical device.
The Bible starts with a famous one: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Just the heavens and the earth? No, everything else in between as well. Psalm 139 reminds me that God sees “my going out and my lying down”. So God’s only looking at me at bedtime and when I leave the house? Of course not, these are bookends (posh name, ‘merism’), encompassing all that comes between.
I love it that the Bible is bookended with bookends. It starts with God’s loving creation of all place and time, and ends with Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega, the East and the West, the Dawn and the Dusk, the Heights and the Depths, the Beginning and the End. All that you can imagine to the furthest reaches, and all that lies between. All of life from birth to rebirth in glory.
Here are some bookends for your reflection. (Click above to download.) Print out the picture, or draw your own version, and fill the space on the bookshelf with whatever you like: your life journey, places or people, events through time, personal or global concerns, things you love, science, nature, prayers, anything.
You can make your ideas into books in a neat row or in a tumbled pile, or have different sorts of things between your bookends. You can write random words or draw pictures. You can fill the whole page with all that is on your heart or choose just a few things to concentrate on.
When you have finished, hear the words of Jesus, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Everything you have put within the bookends, and everything you didn’t have space for, is in Jesus’ care and power. Sit in silence for a couple of minutes holding your bookshelf as a prayer to the one who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:6)
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“See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. “It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.