Dwellings Worship Series, week 4 — LOVE
November 25, 2018
Small Groups: From Worship To Discipleship
Fellowship—Snacks or a Meal. (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal)
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes) — In pairs or groups of three, discuss: "How has being part of this group been meaningful for you?”
Report the results of the Accountable Action from last week. ((Name one area of life where you need encouragement or confidence. Find at least one way to encourage your partner for this exercise.)
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)
Opening Question: What does restoration look like?
Read: Revelation 1:4b-8
Where do we see God dwelling in this passage?
Read: Revelation 1:4b-8
Where are we called to dwell according to this passage?
- What is your initial reaction to God “coming with the clouds” (v. 7)?
- What is your initial reaction to being labeld as a "priest" (v.6)?
- An ideal to aspire to
- Too burdensome
- How does knowing that we are loved by God and have been freed from our sin give us the ability to serve as a “kingdom” and “priests”? [vv. 5-6]
- What does it mean that Christ is our King? How do we display our allegiance to Christ’s kingdom?
What does it mean that we live in God’s kingdom now?
- (R) What does it look like to live as one of God’s “priests” today?
- How does dwelling in love relate to our role as a kingdom of priests?
- (R) How can we more continually dwell in love? What practices do we need to put in place to more fully dwell in the love that God has for us?
Accountable Action — Name one way you will attempt to serve as a loving priest of God this coming week.
Biblical — Kingdom
Most who use this resource will have grown up in a democracy. The Bible assumes a world that is more hierarchical. Thus, a predominant image in the gospels is Jesus preaching the good news of the coming of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the realm or dimension (or “dominion” in verse 6) ruled exclusively by the righteousness of God (2 Peter 3:13). We get glimpses or foretastes of this kingdom now and wait for it to come in fullness at the second coming of Christ. The Book of Revelation is asking its readers to ponder if they living according to the values of God’s kingdom (envisioned as the New Jerusalem) or the finite and corrupt values of earthly kingdoms (represented by fallen Babylon). As citizens of New Jerusalem, our allegiance and behaviors should embody the characteristics of the coming kingdom of God — hope, victory, confidence, and love.
Theological — Love
The mark of a Christian for John Wesley was love. In order that those in the early Methodist societies might “watch over one another in love,” he gave them what has become known as the General Rules. The General Rules can be summed up as “Do no harm, do good, and attend to the ordinances of God.” (See ¶104 of the 2016 Book of Discipline where these are expanded.) Wesley taught that Christians were to continue to strive for being perfected in love. This is a love of motivation and intention that embodies love of God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). (For more information about Covenant Discipleship groups that seek to re-tradition early Methodist Class meetings, see this link: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/leadership-resources/covenant-discipleship.)
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately. If the group sees fit, ask the group to stand in a circle holding hands. Beginning with the facilitator, squeeze the hand of the person on your right and say, “You are a priest in God’s kingdom. Dwell in God’s love.”
Sending Forth (2 minutes). End by praying the following or similar prayer:
My Lord, king of my life, I crown you now; yours shall all glory be. Help me in this hour to discover again my place and service in your kingdom. Speak to me, my God, the things you want me to know and do. Amen.”
From Rueben P. Job, Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People (Upper Room Books, 1990), 336.
4b “Grace to you and peace from [God] who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To [Christ] who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. 8 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Introduction to Revelation
Revelation is the last book of the Bible. God revealed a message through a vision to a Christian man named John, who wrote down what he saw and heard. Revelation uses many symbols, strange sights that mean more than what they seem. The message warns Christians to live according to Jesus’ teachings at a time when it had become challenging to follow his way. The message also provides a vision of what the end of time will be like when the faithful people of all time return to praise God in the new heaven and new earth. While what John sees and hears can be hard to interpret, we know that Christ meets us at the end of the Christian story. The words of the “Hallelujah” chorus in Handel’s Messiah will come true: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15).
Our verse for today is Revelation, chapter 1, verse 8: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Let’s think about what this means.
Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, like A and Z in English.
God is the living God “who is, and who was, and who is to come.”
There was nothing before God. God began time and created everything. There is no other god.
God is alive forever and will never die. God will never go away or be replaced.
God “is to come” means that Jesus, God’s Son, will come back to earth.
God is almighty or all-powerful. But God, the Savior, uses this power for good.
From the beginning to the end, and everything in between, God is in charge of it all for good.
How could this message from God help you when you feel worried?
(Affirm responses. Add other suggestions as you feel led.)
Dear God, you fill us with awe! Thank you for always working for good in every place. Send your Holy Spirit to help us follow Jesus, so that we will spend our lives working with you for good. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.