The scripture passage for this session (Hebrews 1:1-14) asserts that Jesus has a more excellent name that the angels. Harper Collins Bible Dictionary defines “angel”:
“angel (Gk. angelos, ‘messenger’), a spiritual being, subordinate to God, who serves at God’s command and pleasure to deliver messages, help people, and punish God’s enemies. . . . There is some ambiguity, however, about what form these messengers take, exactly what type of beings they are, and just what their relation to God is. . . . By the time of the NT, angels where understood as suprahuman or spiritual beings allied with God in opposition to ‘the devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:9). In the Bible generally, angels have many functions. They praise God (Ps. 103:20), serve as messengers to the world (Luke 1:11-20, 26-38; 2:9-14), watch over God’s people (Ps. 91:11-12), and are sometimes instruments of God’s judgment (Matt. 13:49-50).”
Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised and Updated (Harper & Row, 2011), p. 31.
Reading the Scripture
Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:
• If you are like me, you might find Hebrews difficult to follow at times. Maybe The Message version will help (maybe not):
Hebrews 1: 1-3 Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!
The Son Is Higher than Angels
3-6 After he finished the sacrifice for sins, the Son took his honored place high in the heavens right alongside God, far higher than any angel in rank and rule. Did God ever say to an angel, “You’re my Son; today I celebrate you” or “I’m his Father, he’s my Son”? When he presents his honored Son to the world, he says, “All angels must worship him.”
7 Regarding angels he says,
The messengers are winds,
the servants are tongues of fire.
8-9 But he says to the Son,
You’re God, and on the throne for good;
your rule makes everything right.
You love it when things are right;
you hate it when things are wrong.
That is why God, your God,
poured fragrant oil on your head,
Marking you out as king,
far above your dear companions.
10-12 And again to the Son,
You, Master, started it all, laid earth’s foundations,
then crafted the stars in the sky.
Earth and sky will wear out, but not you;
they become threadbare like an old coat;
You’ll fold them up like a worn-out cloak,
and lay them away on the shelf.
But you’ll stay the same, year after year;
you’ll never fade, you’ll never wear out.
13 And did he ever say anything like this to an angel?
Sit alongside me here on my throne
Until I make your enemies a stool for your feet.
14 Isn’t it obvious that all angels are sent to help out with those lined up to receive salvation?
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.)
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.)
• Call roll using the meaning of your class members’ names. For example: “Is Twin here?” If no one answers, ask, “Tommy? Is Tommy here?” At the end of this session I have attached a list of some names from each class. You can find more at these websites: http://www.zelo.com/firstnames/index.asp or http://www.meaning-of-names.com/ (I started out planning to do all names, but it was taking a long time)
• Morocco Names: A team from LABC traveled to Morocco last year to work with our partner church in Rabat, leading Bible School with Refugee women and their children. They were struck by the names they gave their children. These women have fled war, famine and extreme poverty in their home countries to end up as refugees in Morocco where they have experienced unspeakable abuse and impossible hardships in what feels like a hopeless situation. Yet the names they give their children reflect their hope and faith in God—names like, “God’s Time,” “Divine,” “Success,” “Wisdom” (The team commented that Success and Wisdom).
• The Formations Teaching Guide (p. 5) suggests sharing the 2012 USA Today/Gallup Poll
“Most Admired” list. I have attached it at the end of this session or you can find it on the internet here: http://www.gallup.com/poll/159587/hillary-clinton-barack-obama-admired-2012.aspx
• “Jesus, Name Above All Names” is a music video, which highlights the biblical names of Jesus in an interesting way. I have posted it on the webpage. This video could be used in conjunction with the activity “A More Excellent Name,” from the Formations Teaching Guide (p. 5).
• The Formations Study Guide notes:
Jesus must be central to our interpretation of Scripture. As we try to understand the meaning of the Bible for our lives, we must look through the lens of the story of Jesus. If our readings of Scripture promote ideas or actions that do not fit with what we know of Jesus, then our interpretation is not a Christian interpretation. Jesus must be the focal point for us as we study and teach the Bible. (p. 9)
The 1963 Baptist Faith and Message Statement on Scripture contained this line, “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.” This statement was removed in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message Statement. Discuss Jesus as the “criterion” or “lens” through which scripture is interpreted as it relates to the theme, “A Better Name.”
• Is Jesus central to our worship? (Formations Study Guide, p 9): Take a look at our worship bulletin. In what ways is Jesus central to our worship? Are there times when something else or someone else, other than Jesus, is central to our worship service?
• The Formations Study Guide suggests reading “one chapter of the Gospels each day.” If your and your class members started on Monday, May 6, reading one chapter a day of Matthew you would finish the twenty-eight chapters of Matthew on Sunday, June 2, the last session in this unit. Some may like to listen to an audio version of Matthew, or another Gospel book. We have multiple copies of the dramatized audio New Testament in the office, from our You’ve Got the Time emphasis several years ago.
• The Formations Study Guide encourages us to make Jesus the “focal point” for the “very fabric of our lives.” Start your mornings off with Tommy’s Fabric of Life radio devotionals to help remind you to make Jesus the focus of your day and your life. The Fabric of Life airs on WHIR-AM 1230 at approximately 7:28 each weekday morning and can be found on our website: http://lexave.squarespace.com/pastors-radio-devotionals/
• Hymnals are available if you need them for the Formations Teaching Guide activity, “A Time for Singing Praise,” (p. 7). Call the church office or see Keith if you would like to use hymnals.
• A responsive reading, similar to that recommended in Formations Teaching Guide activity, “A Time for Speaking Praise,” (p. 7), will be included in worship today.
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.
• 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)
The Meaning of Names
Honey Bee Melissa
Peach, Long Life Tao
God is Gracious Shawn
Dark; Rich Adrienne
West Meadow Wesley
Beautiful Song Melodee
Gift from God Michael
God is Gracious John
God Hears Samuel
Soft Haired Julie
Victory of the People Nicole
May God Give Increase Joe
Devoted to God Lisa
God is Gracious Shawn
Hard Ruler Richie
God is Gracious John
Friend of the Sea Ervin
Holy and Good Glenda
Helper of Humanity Sandra
Faithful and True
Of Noble Decent Pat
Pretty One Linda
Priests Town Preston
Women of the Word
She Will Increase Jolene
Pretty One Linda
Gift From God Janice
Lives By The Indian Tree Valley Lindell
Consecrated to God Betty
My God is Bountiful Elizabeth
Bitter Sea Marie
Green Leaf Phyllis
Near the Meadow of Beavers Beverly
Powerful River Rhonda
Gift From God Jane
Pure Karen and Kathy
Divine Gift Ted
Will Helmet Bill