We're so glad you decided to join us today!
This morning we are not meeting for Sunday School in person. Instead, we are having our church picnic, and are at Cross Creek Park. We hope you choose to read the lesson to finish up our summer quarter, Partners in a New Creation.
When we meet in person, we take some time to share both joys and concerns. Take some time to consider your last week. If you have any prayer requests, you can add them in the comments below this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Thank you for giving us your word. Help us to open our hearts and minds to learn from you. Guide us in our studies, and give us wisdom and understanding.
This week's lesson is on Revelation 22:10-21.
Our lesson says that the entire Bible serves as the context of today's lesson! In the Old Testament, a messiah, a deliverer, is promised for God's people. Think of all the prophecies we read as we get close to Christmas.
For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
At the time of Christ, around the first century, the Jewish people expected the messiah to be a political and military rescuer. They were under Roman control. God's anointed rescuer would defeat their nation's enemies. Jerusalem and the temple would be free from outside influence.
As we know, the messiah was not a military leader. He came to save all people from their sins, not just the chosen people in the Old Testament. His death was a sacrifice for sins, intended to be effective for all people for all time. He was the sacrificial lamb who took away the sin of the world.
1. Paths, Advent, Separation (verses 11-15)
The beginning of the scripture passage, the apostle John is still being addressed by the angel of the bowls of plagues (Revelation 21:9). This was the angel that was showing John around the New Jerusalem. When the angel says, "the time is near," it gives a heightened sense of the necessary fulfillment of prophecy: Christ will indeed return.
The angel says that there are really just two paths that people take: the path of the unrepentant and the path of the repentant. At this point, it seems the judgment has already been determined. Each person will be given to according to what they have done.
Those who have chosen the narrow path of repentance will enter the city. Those who have chosen the wide way of unrepentance will be left outside.
2. Testimony, Offer, Warning
Verse 16 features Jesus talking about himself. Prophecies in the Old Testament spoke of the coming Messiah as a "branch" to grow from "roots," (Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15; Zechariah 6:12). Here, Jesus says he is also the root from which the branch grew. That makes him the Messiah in all fullness.
Jesus also calls himself the bright Morning Star. Usually, this is a reference to what we now know is the planet Venus. Our book talks about phenomenological language and typological language. Phenomenological language refers to the way things appear from the point of view of an observer. Typological language deals with symbolic meaning or representation. In this verse, we might think about the phenomenon of the morning star: the planet Venus seems to be the last star visible in the morning as the sun is rising. Symbolically, the night is almost over, and Jesus is coming soon with his life.
The Holy Spirit and the body of the followers of Christ, the church, call for faith and obedience.
Anyone reading the prophecy is warned to neither add to it, nor take away from it. The punishment for doing so is to be removed from the city. Our book says that reading Revelation is difficult, and that often we only read small parts. Instead, we should read the entire book in one sitting to allow its full message to speak to our minds and hearts.
3. Promising, Longing, Closing
At the end, we get a final reminder that Jesus promises to come soon. There are only two reactions to Christ's return: joy and fear.
John adds a short prayer to the end: "Come, Lord Jesus." Our book compares this to Paul's "Maranatha" in 1 Corinthians 16:22. This is an Aramaic word meaning "Come, Lord." This might be the greatest faith prayer a Christian can utter, to ask sincerely for Christ to return.
We are left with a final blessing. It was a comfort for the seven churches from Revelation 2 and 3, and it is a comfort for us.
The return of Christ is a key theme in the book of Revelation. We don't know how the second coming or our residence in the New Jerusalem will work. The end of Revelation gives some answers. But it also raises questions. In the end, we do not need to know everything.
Questions for Consideration
If you would like, you can share an answer or thought as a comment since we are not able to discuss these together.
Father, thank you for promises both fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled. In this light, we pray, "Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!" Amen.
This week's benediction is from the New King James Version.
Next week, we will be starting the fall quarter, God's Exceptional Choice. The first lesson will be on Genesis 12:1-5, 7; 15:1-7.
Sunday School: The River of Life
We're so happy you decided to join us today!
Next week, we will not be meeting in person. Instead, we will be at Cross Creek Park in West Middletown for our picnic with Upper Buffalo. We hope to see you there!
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns together. Consider the last couple of weeks. What worries did you have, or what were you grateful for? If you would like, you can share prayer requests as a comment to this post. When you are ready, use this prayer (based on this one by Gill Le Fevre) to get started.
As trees are rocked and shaken by storms and strong winds, so we find ourselves challenged and tested. We bring before you now our worries and concerns that threaten to upend us.
Steadfast God, the Tree of Life is the breath of life. Sustain us, we pray, and give us peace.
The leaves of the Tree are for healing the nations. There are so many places today that need this help. Grant them all your peace and healing.
The branches of the Tree stretch out, sharing your abundance and love. We pray for the opportunities to stretch out in our lives and share your love with those around us. Guide and encourage each one of us as we strive to do your work in the world.
The Tree bears fruit, ripe each month, bringing food and reassurance. We pray for those around the world who do not have sufficient food, struggling in famine or poverty. We pray for those worrying about the resources they need, fearing or dealing with scarcity. Bring aid and support to all those in need.
The roots of the Tree give strength and endurance, fed by the water that flows from the sanctuary. Your love and teaching brings us the guidance and support we need. Thank you for leading us in our days and showing us how you would have us live. Thank you for the confidence we can have in your love for each one of us.
The Tree of Life stands tall in your creation. We give thanks for all the trees, beautiful in their diversity. Guide us to take better care of the natural world, and preserve and restore it for generations to come.
The Tree of Life is the breath of life. Sustain us, we pray, and give us peace.
This week's lesson is on Revelation 22:1-7.
A feature of the New Jerusalem drawn from the Old Testament is the tree of life. This mysterious tree is referred to in three books in the Bible. It first appears as an important part of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9; 3:22). A tree of life is also mentioned four times in the book of Proverbs as a metaphor for divine wisdom (3:18), the fruit of righteousness (11:30), desire fulfilled (13:12), and properly used tongue (15:4). We should note that this is a tree of life, not the tree of life. The tree of life mentioned in Revelation is a primary feature of “the paradise of God”. Some have referred to this paradise as Eden restored, as people eat the fruit of the tree with God’s blessing.
Water is closely associated with this tree in today’s lesson. The image of water is used in both physical and spiritual senses in the Bible. In a physical sense, fresh water has as its opposite water that is brackish (bitter). Fresh water sustains life, brackish water - or lack of water altogether - yields the opposite. The ultra-salty Dead Sea is aptly named! The prophets Ezekiel and Zechariah had visions that bear similarities to John’s vision of the New Jerusalem. A feature of the city foreseen by Ezekiel and Zechariah was a river flowing out off it. The water of this river is so refreshing that it not only nourish life; it changes the ultra-salty Dead Sea into a freshwater lake.
In revelation, the concept of spiritual water includes the property of eternal life. Such water is seen as a divine gift, and ever-flowing fountain that provides life to those who drink from it.
Many things have clearly defined beginnings and ends. Transcending all our starts and stops of life is the timelessness of God, who was there at the beginning and will be there at the end. He is the Alpha and Omega, with an enduring nature that stretches beyond the range of human understanding.
All this is illustrated by the New Jerusalem, a city to feature a physical size that is beyond our comprehension. It will be a city with unending day, an ever-flowing river of life, an ever-bearing tree of life, ceaseless worship and priceless building materials. It will be ever new.
Such will be our relationship with the Lord. That relationship will be eternally consistent, pure, and true. Yet this description fails to describe the relationship fully, for there is a limitlessness on God’s side. Nonetheless, we are blessed by John’s revelation to us of his visions. May we be faithful in keeping the lessons we learn.
Father, we barely understand the marvels of your promised holy city, a place where you will provide all the light we need for our eyes and hearts. May we hold these promises tightly so that when your son returns, he will find us faithful and ready. We pray this in his name. Amen.
Thought to Remember
Seek and share the living water now!
Our benediction this week is from the New Revised Standard Version.
Next week's lesson will be on Revelation 22:10-21.
Sunday School: A New City
Good morning! We're glad you decided to read the lesson today!
This week, we are having worship at the Washington County Fair. We are not meeting in person. We hope we get to see you at the fair!
This week, we are not able to be together for Sunday School. So take some time to consider your last week, and any prayer requests you might have. If you feel comfortable, you can add them as a comment on this post so we can all pray. When you are ready, use this prayer (source) to get started as you read the Sunday School lesson.
Lord, thank you for this time you’ve given me to open your Word and discover who you are. Thank you that you don’t leave us in the dark about who you are and what you are doing in the world, but that you have revealed yourself and your will through the Bible, your sacred words to us. Lord, I need wisdom as I read your Word. You promise us in James 1:5 that we only have to ask for wisdom to receive it. Lord, please give me your wisdom now as I approach your word. Help me discern the truth of this text. Help me not rely on my own understanding. Thank you God for the clarity, encouragement and hope your Word brings.
In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Today's lesson is on Revelation 21:10-21. It picks up where last week's lesson left off.
I visited the Louvre in Paris with the golden inlay walls and ceilings and realized that in John’s vision the New City will be more glorious than anything we have ever seen or experience.
John sees a great city coming from the heavens. Isiah and Ezekiel envisioned the centrality of God’s city, Jerusalem. This New Jerusalem would be the source of joy for all God’s people. Throughout history, God’s people have held firmly to the truth that God will provide for his people at the end of time.
John describes how he was carried by one of the seven angels. Since he asserts that this experience took place in the Spirit, we can infer that this was a vision. This New Jerusalem will be place where God will dwell with his people.
The vision of the city coming down out of heaven serves as a representation of God’s relationship with humanity. God’s city, his dwelling place, will come down to be among his people. Mediation between God and humanity will no longer be needed. God will be present with his people in the city. It will not need celestial bodies like the sun because God’s glory will lit up the city,
The walls of Jerusalem will serve a different purpose than an earthly wall. In John’s vision, the heavenly city’s enemies have been destroyed. Therefore, this wall doesn’t not serve to keep out our adversaries but holds God’s glory and purity.
The description of the twelve gates for each of the tribes of Israel means that all of God’s people will be included in that city.
The dimensions of the city resembles the dimensions of the inner sanctuary of the temple - the most Holy Place where God’s glory dwelt among Israel . In this heavenly city there is no need for the Most Holy Place.
This city is covered in precious gems and gold. It is glorious. There are twelve gates with twelve pearls with the twelve tribes of Israel on them. There are twelve angels too. The great street is made out of gold. Like trees lining a boulevard, the tree of life stood on both sides of the street. I have heard many people talk about the pearly gates and the streets of gold in heaven.
God displays beauty for his people. Bu more importantly, God will bring new life. Ultimately, he will restore his creation for his glory.
Approximately 500 miles southeast from St. Colman’s Cathedral sits the royal chapel of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, France. While the 700 year old chapel is small and unassuming, its size is not its main draw. Instead, the chapel’s massive and delicate stained glass features are its claim to fame.
Over 1,000 individual biblical and historical scenes are depicted in stained glass, arranged across 15 windows, each approximately 50 feet high. As the sun shines across Paris and pours through the stained glass, the chapels naves lights up with hues of blues, reds and greens.
The apostle John used vivid language to describe a glorious and splendid heavenly city. Unlike earthly cities, the heavenly city glows with the brightness of God’s glory. God’s glory shines through the city, more vivid and illumination than sunlight. Our hope as believers is that we will someday worship God in that beautiful, heavenly city.There will no place like it.
Creator God, you are a God of beauty. Thank you for glimpse if your glory that we see through your creation. Help us to share with others what you have done for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen
How does John’s heavenly vision provide a peace and hope for a follower of Christ?
How can this heavenly hope fuel your current toiling on earth?
Today's benediction is from the New Revised Standard Version.
Next week's lesson is on Revelation 22:1-7.
Sunday School: A New Home
Good morning! We're so glad you chose to join us today!
Next week, we will not be meeting in person. Instead, we will have worship at the Washington County Fair. We hope you will be able to join us there!
In the United States, we enjoy many good things that people in other parts of the world only dream of — freedom, relative peace, the opportunity for prosperity. However, that does not remove us from the pain and struggles that all people must endure in this life.
When we come together we share our joys and our sorrows, our expressions of gratitude and our pains. Take a moment to think about the hardships that you or that those close to you are dealing with right now. Bring them to God and, if you like, share them by posting them in the comments below.
The following prayer is by Christine Jerritt and was posted on her website.
Living God, Maker of heaven and earth, we come into your presence and we know ourselves to be recipients of great and wonderful gifts — the earth, the sky, the waters — given to us here in such abundance and beauty. We lead enormously privileged lives. Don’t let our comfort blind us to the newness you are making in our midst — a newness that is taking us in directions we would not choose on our own; a newness that moves our safe horizons out beyond what we can control.
This much does not change: You are our God; we are your people, bound to you by the love of Jesus Christ and by the call of your Holy Spirit. Faithful God, hold us deep in that truth even as you move us into your new creation.
Creating and re-creating God, take us in our uncertainties and make us new. We pray in the name of your Son, who has gone ahead of us into your new future and who beckons us follow. Amen.
This week's lesson is on Revelation 21:1-9.
Sunday School: The Word Gives Peace
We're so happy you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns together. Take some time to consider the last week. What prayer requests do you have? If you have anything you would like to share, you can add a comment to this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Father in heaven, king of glory, we adore your name and work to glorify you forever. It is through your will that we are alive and healthy today. Your Grace has allowed us to converge together. You have promised that whenever we call on your name, you will hear and answer us. Come into our midst, God, and have fellowship with us. Make your blessings abundant and grace us with your presence. From the start of this meeting to the end, glorify yourself and accept our prayers. Amen.
This week's lesson is on John 14:15-29.
Sunday School: The Word Resurrects
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns together. Take some time to think about the past week. If you have any prayer requests you would like to share, you can put a comment on this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
God, we’re so grateful to be able to meet here together and be in your presence today.
We know it’s a gift. Help us never lose sight of that.
While we’re here together studying Your Word we ask that You’d open our ears and our hearts to whatever it is You are wanting to teach us.
Help us to see things through Your eyes and not the lens of our own understanding.
We want to know You more, God.
Thank you for showing us who You are and helping us understand and walk in Your love.
What we learn today we want to act on. Don’t let it become mere head knowledge. Shape our minds, hearts, and actions according to Your word.
Show us how to honor you and love others well with what we learn.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
This week's lesson is on John 11:17-27, 38-44.
Sunday School: The Word Heals
We are so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet together in person, we share our joys and concerns before we focus on our Sunday school lesson. Today people in our community are going through times of suffering and grief. Think about the needs of those close to you and about your own needs and concerns. If you like, you can share them in the comments.
Today’s lesson is about the power Jesus has to heal our infirmities and to meet our needs. It is also about having faith, even when we don’t see the evidence right now. It’s the kind of faith Jesus looks for in his followers.
The following brief prayer was posted on Luther Seminary’s Working Preacher website. It is by Dr. David Lose, a professor and pastor.
God of miracles, sometimes we are slow to believe in your power, even when your miracles occur all around us each and every day. Open our eyes to see and our hearts to believe. Amen.
Today's lesson is on John 4:46-54.
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we share any joys and concerns we might have together. Think about the past week. What prayer requests do you have? If you feel comfortable, you can share them as a comment on this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below, Pope Francis' Prayer for Peace, to get started.
Lord God of peace, hear our prayer!
We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms. How many moments of hostility and darkness have we experienced; how much blood has been shed; how many lives have been shattered; how many hopes have been buried… But our efforts have been in vain.
Now, Lord, come to our aid! Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace. Open our eyes and our hearts, and give us the courage to say: "Never again war!"; "With war everything is lost". Instill in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.
Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters. Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace, our trepidation into confident trust, and our quarreling into forgiveness.
Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words "division", "hatred" and "war" be banished from the heart of every man and woman. Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be "brother", and our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam!
Today's lesson is on John 1:1-14.
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we take some time to share our joys and concerns. Consider the past week. What prayer requests do you have? If you would like, you can share them as a comment to this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below, from St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Theresa of Avila, (source) to get started.
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you
May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.
Today's lesson is on Isaiah 51:1-8.
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we take time to share how our weeks have been, and any prayer requests we might have. Consider your past week, and any joys or concerns you might have. If you feel comfortable, you can share them as a comment on this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Almighty Lord God, give us true faith, and make that faith grow in us day by day. Also give us hope and love, so that we may serve our neighbors according to your will; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
This week's lesson is on Isaiah 49:18-23.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.