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.
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.
Our guest speaker this morning is Rev. Renny Domske.
Gathering Around the Word
Prelude Music Director Robert Senay
CALL TO WORSHIP from Psalm 7
O Lord my God, I take refuge in You;
Save and deliver me from all who pursue me.
If I have done evil to him who is at peace with me,
then let me enemy pursue and overtake me.
Judge me, O Lord, according to me righteousness,
According to my integrity, O Most High.
O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts,
Bring to an end the violence of the wicked.
My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.
God is a righteous judge, a judge who rules for the right.
I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness
and will sing praise to the Name of the Lord Most High.
INVOCATION Dr. Domske
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns. Take some time to think about the past week, and the joys and concerns you have. Again, as we are in the season of thanksgiving, consider what you have been thankful for. If you would like, you can share by commenting on this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
As I express my gratitude to you in prayer, may it be a pleasing, joyful sound to you.
Thank you, Lord, for your love. It brings me acceptance and significance.
Thank you, Lord, for your truth. It brings me guidance and direction.
Thank you, Lord, for your mercy. It brings me help and comfort.
Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness. It brings me stability and strength.
Thank you, Lord, for your beauty displayed in the earth. It brings me joy and delight.
Thank you, Lord, for your way of redemption - the cross. It brings me salvation and regeneration.
Today's lesson is on Revelation 19:1-8.
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 as you consider your past week. What joys or concerns do you have? As we walk in this season of thanksgiving, think about what you were thankful for in the last week. If you have anything you would like to share, you can add it as a comment to this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.
Today's text is Revelations 11:15-19.
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet for Sunday School, we take some time to share our joys and concerns. Take some time to think over the past week, and any prayer requests you might have. If you would like, you can share them in the comments of today's lesson. When you are ready, use the prayer (source) below to get started.
O God, we thank you for this earth, our home; for the wide sky and the blessed sun, for the salt sea and the running water, for the everlasting hills and the never-resting winds, for trees and the common grass underfoot. We thank you for our senses by which we hear the songs of birds, and see the splendor of the summer fields, and taste of the autumn fruits, and rejoice in the feel of the snow, and smell the breath of the spring. Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty; and save our souls from being so blind that we pass unseeing when even the common thornbush is aflame with your glory, O God our creator, Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
This week's lesson is on Revelation 7:9-17.
Three things should be observed by careful readers. First, Revelation combines elements of ancient letters, prophetic, texts and apocalyptic literature. It is considered partially a letter because how the book opens with a greeting and is addressed to specific churches. Revelation is considered a form of prophecy given to John in order that he might declare the “testimony of Christ“. Revelation is considered apocalyptic text. A proper understanding of Revelation requires recognizing the imagery and language of apocalyptic literature.
Second, the book of Revelation is loaded with allusions to the Old Testament and assumes the audience’s familiarity with their source.
Third, Revelation emphasizes worshiping God. The text is filled with poetic scenes of worship. Each one makes claims about who is worthy to be worshipped in Heaven and on Earth. Revelation calls the people to worship ’Our God, who sits on the throne “ and “ the Lamb”
Today’s passage continues John’s vision of Heaven. Several startling events have occurred: the glorious entry of the Lamb into the throne room and the introduction of a sealed scroll and its opening, leading to the dramatic gathering of the servants of God. John then turned his attention to the great multitude of people and witnessed their worship.
The multitude of worshippers were vast and included people from every nation. This description reflects the worldwide penetration of the gospel. Regardless of one’s heritage or cultural context of origin, any person can believe and share in God’s salvation. The image of wearing white robes means that person was cleansed from sin.
The multitude acknowledges that their hope for salvation is realized. They are waving palm branches. Christ’s death and resurrection as the Lamb of God enacts God’s salvation.
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God.
The first words of pronouncements justified because they have experience the Lord’s goodness. Glory carries the image of light - radiant like celestial bodies. God always does the right thing , having never failing wisdom. Giving thanks and honor to God for all he does. The hymn ends with Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength Be to our God forever and ever Amen.
One of the elders asked John “These in white robes - who are they and where did they come from”. The elder answered his own question. “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”. This could be related to prosecution at the hands of the Roman Empire or to us this could imply the future time of worldwide suffering and persecution. John’s vision affirms that following Jesus might result in suffering even to the point of martyrdom.
The robes are white because they were washed in the blood of the Lamb represents Christ’s atonement and our forgiveness from sin based on his sacrificial death. The blood of the Lamb triumphs over sin and Satan.
Because they are pure, clothed in their white robes, the multitude stands before the throne of God. They worship night and day. Never again will they hunger nor thirst. Physical needs will be met. The saints are in the glorious presence of God with his protection and blessing.
John’s vision returns to the scene of heavenly worship and the source of all hope and salvation: the Lamb. Throughout John’s writing, he presents Jesus as a good shepherd. Now John presents the good shepherd as the Lamb., leading his followers to springs of living water of eternal life The Lamb brings eternal peace and comfort, removing sorrow by wiping every tear from their eyes.
Suffering was no stranger to American poet Fanny Crosby Blind since infancy, she undoubtedly experienced many trials and challenges. In all those, she was able to proclaim, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine… Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.” A prolific writer of more than 8,000 songs, this is just one of Crosby’s compositions that speak of Jesus’ blood. In the midst of her suffering, Crosby was yet able to praise and worship God for salvation available through the blood of the Lamb.
Revelation 7 is a high point in the Bible concerning worship and praise. This passage is timely for all audiences. It acknowledges that although suffering occurs, confident hope is always called for because of the salvation bought and brought by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus. In times of joy or suffering, that fact should unite us in praise and worship. May we be a people who live in hope as we await the day when we will hunger and thirst no more, the day of no more tears. Until that day, may our lives be marked with praise and worship to the God who sits on his heavenly throne and to the Lamb who brings salvation.
Dear God, may we ever offer praise and thanksgiving for your glory, wisdom, honor, power, and strength. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
What do you think?
In what way can you be Jesus’ hands and feet in comforting others until he returns?
In what situations will be better for you to work individually in this regard rather than a group? Why?
In what ways does today’s text inspire you to help your church improve an area of worship?
This week's benediction is from the Berean Study Bible.
Next week's lesson is on Revelation 11:5-19.
We’ve spent the weeks of Lent looking at the idea of lament.
This week, the last one of Lent, we’re going to ponder the end of lament.
What will it be like to no longer need to lament?
First, read Isaiah 2:2-3 and Isaiah 25:6-10. Just click on the scripture to open it up in a new window. This passage is a prophecy from Isaiah. God has set a celebratory feast upon a mountain. Sadness will end, and death will be defeated. All we must do is wait for this to happen.
Next, read Revelation 21:1-8. Again, click on the scripture to open it in a new window. This portion of the book of Revelation is a description of a vision of God’s new kingdom. Note that “passed away,” according to our study, does not mean that the old heaven and earth were annihilated. They were instead transformed into the new heaven and new earth.
As you read these passages, you may have noticed how hopeful they are in the future. We lament because we have hope for the future. We trust that God is able to bring about a future like those we’ve just read.
I think it is important to consider part of this future that we hope for. The descriptions in these passages talk about what the future will not have. It will not have tears and sadness. It will not have injustice. It will not have death.
We might picture heaven as having mansions and gold streets… but we picture it being somewhere else! But creation will be redeemed as well as humanity. I’ve never been a huge fan of the heavenly mansions, so I quite like this picture. It looks like a restoration to the garden of Eden, except it won’t be only the garden. It will be the whole world! There will not longer be somewhere outside the garden to be expelled.
More importantly, we will always have the presence of God. He will be right there. There will be no perceived absence of God, and thus no reason to lament.
Jan Bruegel, the Elder. The Garden of Eden. (c. 1610-1612).
A part of lament that we’ve discussed is that we can lament in our life’s circumstances. We show our trust in God by crying out for His help in our day-to-day lives. We’ve also looked at lament in song.
For this final lesson, the book suggested the hymn “Life Every Voice and Sing.” The words were written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson, a leader in the civil rights movement. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson, set those words to music. As you listen to one or more of the versions below, consider both the lament and the hope in the words.
This hymn is still telling a story of both lament and hope. People are still writing songs and poems that feature both lament and hope. In a daily email subscription that I receive, Father Richard Rohr discussed one recent example of a poem. (If you read our weekly Sunday School lessons, it also goes nicely with our recent discussions of prophets.) Take a moment to read his thoughts here on the poem, "The Hill We Climb." If you would like to read the poem, you can follow this link.
Right now, we all have reasons to lament. But we also have hope for the future, where we will no longer need to.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
you have brought us thus far on our way.
Though the road continues out before us, you give us hope:
Hope that our work will bring your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Hope that you will walk beside us every step of our journey.
For your unfailing love for us, and the hope you give us, we give you thanks.
Our trust is in you.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.