Witness Despite Fear (April 21)

Acts 9:1-22

Comment


We are used to focusing on Saul/Paul. In this lesson we look at Ananias as our example.

John Polhill has this to say about Ananias,

“Ananias fulfilled his commission, going to Paul and laying his hands upon him as he had been instructed. Ananias’s greeting is striking: “Brother Saul.” He could have said this as a fellow Jew, but it was surely as a brother in Christ that Ananias greeted Paul. Something of a “conversion” had taken place in his own heart through his vision of the Lord, so that now he could receive as a fellow disciple the one whom he so shortly before had feared and distrusted” (Acts: The New American Commentary, Volume 26, Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992, p. 238).

William H. Wilimon shares some profound thought on the relevance of Ananias’s action for us today:

“Like Ananias, contemporary disciples must be ready to be surprised by God’s transformation of our enemies into our brothers and sisters, for the church knows not who may be the recipient of the inscrutable choices of God” (Acts: Interpretation, A Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1988, p. 79).

Reading the Scripture

Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:

•    Video:
o    The Book of Acts: The Visual Bible (Dramatized video movie, word for word from the NIV text. Available from Keith or the web page).
o    WatchWord Bible, New Testament on DVD is available in the library. (These videos display and read the text in Contemporary English Version with background pictures, video and sound. Not exactly dramatized or all that exciting, but could be another way to read the text.)

•    Audio:
o    The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).
o    Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the library and the church office.)

•    Cotton Patch Gospel version (In Keith’s office). Excerpt: “When he stopped for gas just outside of Chattanooga, all of a sudden a flash from the sky surrounded him. He fell to the pavement, and heard a voice asking, ‘Saul! Saul! Why are you so mean to me?” (p. 104).

Teaching Suggestions

•    Our Church’s Witness to the World - Ministry Focus (Note: Today we will have a Soup’s On Us Commissioning Service). Please say to your class, “Your gifts to the church budget and to the Glocal Missions Offering helps support these ministries.”:
o    Share about the ministry of Soup’s On Us using information from the Glocal Missions Offering brochure and from our website (/labc-glocal-ministries/).
o    Share about the work of Habitat for Humanity using information from the Glocal Missions Offering brochure and from our website (/labc-glocal-ministries/)
o     Or choose one of our Glocal Ministry groups of special interest to your class.

•    Missions Video: Show a video about Soup’s On Us ministry (on our web site: /sunday-school-supplements/).

•    Maps: The distance from Jerusalem to Damascus was about 150 to 190 miles or about five days on foot. Show Jerusalem and Damascus on the map.
o    “Jesus Encounters Saul of Tarsus on the Road to Damascus,” A Visual Guide to Bible Events (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2009): p. 224-225.
o    “The Life of Paul,” Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996): p. 356.
o    Oxford Bible Atlas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007): p. 169
o    Atlas of Bible Lands (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1977): “Journey of the Apostles,” B-31.
o    Bible Map Guide (Common English Bible, 2011), Map 17.

•    Synagogues: See some beautiful photographs of the remains of synagogues in Aerial Atlas of the Holy Land (John Bowker, Photography by Sonia Halliday and Bryan Knox, Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books, 2008): pp.166-173.

•    Eye Fast: Fasting is a common practice in the New Testament and for Christians through the years. Paul was blind for three days. Surely this time of darkness (reminiscent of Jesus’ three days in the tomb), for Paul, was a time of reflection and prayer. Encourage your class members to observe a three-day fast from seeing similar to Paul’s three days of blindness. For example they could conduct a media fast—no television, movies, newspapers, or magazines, and avoid looking at billboards for three days. Focus only on making eye contact in conversation and eyes on the road of course. During these three days they could spend extra time with eyes closed in prayer. The prayer for these three days might be, “God, grant me a fresh vision of your direction for my life, as you did with Paul.” As a teacher you might try this experience before the session and offer your reflections.

•    Phobias: The Formations Teaching Guide includes an activity, "Fear Itself," which names some phobias. I have posted on the web page a video clip of Lucy counseling Charlie Brown about phobias.

Resources

I have set aside a shelf in the library with resources for Sunday School teachers. I will place there resources of general interest and some specifically applicable to current lessons. Other resources are kept in my office.

•    Maps: The distance from Jerusalem to Damascus was about 150 to 190 miles or about five days on foot. Show Jerusalem and Damascus on the map.
o    “Jesus Encounters Saul of Tarsus on the Road to Damascus,” A Visual Guide to Bible Events (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2009): p. 224-225.
o    “The Life of Paul,” Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996): p. 356.
o    Oxford Bible Atlas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007): p. 169
o    Atlas of Bible Lands (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1977): “Journey of the Apostles,” B-31.
o    Bible Map Guide (Common English Bible, 2011), Map 17.
o    Aerial Atlas of the Holy Land (John Bowker, Photography by Sonia Halliday and Bryan Knox, Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books, 2008):

•    Commentaries in Keith’s office
o    Acts: The New American Commentary, Volume 26, John B. Polhill (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992).
o    Acts: The Gospel of the Spirit, Justo Gonzalez (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2001).
o    Acts, Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary, J. Bradley Chance (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2007).
o    Journeying Through Acts: A Literary Cultural Reading, (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997).
o    Acts: Interpretation, A Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, William H. Willimon (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1988).

•    For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
o    Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o    Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)