Month: November 2016

Lesson 13: November 27, 2016

Alpha and Omega: Revelation 22:8-21


Teaching Strategy: It’s always good to give thanks, but especially on the Sunday following Thanksgiving, it’s fitting to give thanks and praise to God for all our blessings.  As this is the final lesson of the Fall Quarter, you might also reflect on where you’ve seen the Spirit at work in your congregation these past few months. Consider how gathering to study God’s Word is a pattern for our future gathering in the unity of our one Lord and Savior.

Thanksgiving is a time of gathering. For farmers it’s a time of gathering in the harvest. For urban dwellers it’s a time of gathering groceries and special ingredients for all of our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts.  For all of us it’s a time of gathering around a table and thanking God for our many blessings.  There is a sense of destiny in our gathering. What we taste around the table of thanksgiving is a foretaste of gathering around the heavenly table in the kingdom of God as it is portrayed in John’s Revelation.  God’s new heaven and new earth promise a time of gathering all people around one Lord and Savior who is Alpha and Omega. How do today’s blessings give us hope for the fullness of God’s blessing that is to come?


Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 13, Unifying Principle: People are aware that things have a beginning and an end. What is the source and final purpose of human life? Revelation affirms that God, who is the Alpha and Omega, controls all things.

 

Lesson 12: November 20, 2016

Living Waters: Revelation 22:1-7


Teaching Strategy: Provide a water cycle chart and an activity to help participants understand how our rivers and streams fit into the cycle. Then, work together to create a list of ten or more of the world’s major rivers. Look up two or three names of rivers on the Internet in order to learn something about the people who depend on these rivers for their health and quality of life (see a few examples, below). 

In John’s Revelation of God’s glorious new world, the river will nourish and heal everything in the city. Its an apt metaphor because we recognize the centrality of healthy rivers to life on our planet. When a water source is cut off or unsanitary it creates a life-threatening situation. Make time for prayers of thanksgiving and petition.  Give thanks for all the ways in which you are blessed by a clean and healthy supply of water. Pray for God’s healing in countries where the rivers run dry, where water is contaminated, where war removes access to water, where food cannot grow. Pray God’s protection over the rivers of the world and over the lives of those who depend on these rivers. For example:

  • The people of Peru who are diligently working to save the yellow-spotted Amazon River turtles by releasing 500,000 baby turtles back into the wild by mid-November.
  • The people living in the Juba and Shabelle river basins. After months of drought in Somalia and Ethiopia there is now a high risk of flooding, especially in areas with open river banks / weak river embankments.
  • The volunteers who train in order to protect the people, fish, and wildlife that rely on the Columbia River — it runs 1200 miles along the coast of the Pacific Northwest in both the United States and Canada.

Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 12, Unifying Principle: People are aware that rivers give life and nourishment to the things that exist around them. How do rivers nourish our lives? According to John, in the new world, God’s power will be in the river and will nourish and heal everything in the city.

 

Lesson 11: November 13, 2016

I See a New Jerusalem: Revelation 21:9-27


Teaching Strategy: Jesus taught us to pray, “God’s kingdom come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10). How can we help God’s kingdom to come in our own time? How can we help God’s will to be done on earth as it is in the heaven John’s vision foresees (Rev. 21)? 

In John’s vision he hears the One who is seated on the throne saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” Perhaps this text could come at no better time than on the heels of a presidential election. Regardless of how we feel about the newly elected president, Christians can agree that the one ruler in heaven and earth is Christ Jesus our Lord. Now that we’ve elected a U.S. president, it is time to set aside division. It is time to pray for the healing of our nation and all the nations of the earth. It is time to pray with one voice, “God’s kingdom come!” There is a simple plan for the healing of our divisions: let all the Christians of the world seek to live God’s will on earth as it is in heaven!

Here are some ideas for prayer and discussion:

  • A sung prayer, “For the Healing of the Nations.” (Text: Susan Briehl/Music: John D. Becker) Listen on YouTube.
  • The World in Prayer website offers a model for weaving the international news into our daily prayers as an active, creative, life-giving response to the needs of our brothers and sisters all over the world.
  • A prayer for our nation’s electoral process. (Click on the links in the prayer for further reflection and study.)

Closing prayer: All glory be to the One God and Ruler of all.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.  Grant us faith, hope, and love so that your people might become vessels of Your will on earth here and now, even as it is in heaven. Amen.


Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 11, Unifying Principle: It is difficult for people to imagine living in a place that is different from the one in which they presently live. What will the new place be like? John describes a heavenly vision of the new place that God will create.

 

Lesson 10: November 6, 2016

Everything is Brand New: Revelation 21:1-8


Teaching Strategy: John’s vision of hope in Rev. 21 is not that God carries all of us to heaven, but rather, God brings heaven to earth– transforming us from people of darkness into people of light.

The Fall Quarter closes with a four-session unit titled, “Alpha and Omega,” drawing on John’s Revelation of God’s present and coming reign, including: 1) a Creator who makes all things new, 2) a vision of a New Jerusalem, 3) a river of life, and 4) the beginning and the end of all things.

Sometimes we get bogged down by the darkness and violence of the world today. What helps us to see seeds of God’s light and transforming power at work in the world?

What activities or images help us to grasp the new thing God’s transformation is working in us even now?

Here are some ideas to further stimulate group conversation:

  • View a sand artist at work in the video titled, “You’ve Got a Friend.”
  • Do an Internet search of the term, “re-purposing,” to learn new uses for items that are seemingly no longer of value.
  • Look through a hymnal for lyrics that celebrate God’s new reign and coming glory.

Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 10, Unifying Principle: People look for a place and time when life’s stresses will not exist. Is such a time and place possible? John, the writer of the Book of Revelation, suggests that God will create a new heaven and earth where life’s challenges and stresses will be banished forever.