Churches in the Trenches (July 7-30)

Introduction to the Unit

Dr. William Turner on Revelation

Dr. William Turner was a retired pastor from Texas and member of Lexington Avenue Baptist for a time a few years ago until he came out of retirement to pastor a church in Lexington and teach at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky. He wrote a book about the book of Revelation (available in my office), Making Sense of the Revelation: A Clear Message of Hope. He had these words of introduction to Revelation:

“The book of Revelation is preeminently a treatise on Christian hope. Addressing churches under attack, John urges believers to live faithfully. He wants them to know that they are not alone, with a future, or beyond hope. John’s pastoral word is clear: live the faithful Christian life and trust God for the future. Far from elitism or escapism, then, a fresh look at this mysterious book may help to ground us in fresh hope as we participate in the unfolding story of God’s people in this new millennium” (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2000, pp. x-xi.).

James Blevins on Revelation

Speaking as John, Blevins describes the situation at the time of the Revelation:

“Because I was in a Roman prison I could not openly speak of Christ, so the Spirit led me to write the revelation of Jesus Christ in the apocalyptic codes of the Jewish people. Some 200 or 300 years before the birth of Christ, the Jewish people had developed a coded language so that they could speak to one another about their relationship with God. Throughout their history the Jewish people had been a persecuted people, who desperately needed such a code. I wrote Revelation in these same codes, because mine was a prison experience and the Christians on the mainland were facing persecution. I would like to share these codes with you, my dear readers, in order that you might be prepared to understand the Book of Revelation. The very first word in Revelation in the Greek text is the word apocalypsis. It has as its basic meaning to decode, uncover, or reveal. Thus, in your modern Bibles, my book is called the Revelation. That word is used to give you a clue that Revelation belongs to the tradition of my Jewish people.” (p. 12)

Below I have listed the codes that will appear in the scripture texts for this unit. You might refer back to them each week:

[2:1, 3:1]
“SEVEN: Divine number. (In many apocalyptic works the code number for God is 777; many Jews added up the number of their name according to the Hebrew alphabet and this would be their code number in the days of persecution. Revelation makes great use of 7’s; seven trumpets, seven churches, seven bowls of wrath.)

“GOLD: Worth or value.”

“TEN: Complete number. (Thus, the thousand year reign of Christ in ch. 20 implies a complete reign of Christ.)”

[2:17, 3:18]
“WHITE: Purity or conquering.”

“BRONZE: Strength.”

(Revelation as Drama, James L. Blevins,Nashville: Broadman Press, 1984, pp. 12-13.)

Special emphases this month:

•    Lemonade on the Lawn, July 7. The Welcome Center will be moved out to the front of the sanctuary, 10:15-10:45 a.m. to welcome everyone to worship. Invite class members and friends.

•    The first ever Danville Irish Festival is July 11-14, 2013. As a part of the festival downtown churches are being encouraged to include Irish elements (prayers, blessings, music, etc.) in worship on Sunday, July 14.

•    Sunday, July 28 is Ministry Commitment Sunday. There will be a stewardship emphasis sermon or testimony on the topic of “stewardship of our talents” and members are encouraged to complete and turn in their ministry surveys.

Teaching in General

Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learners
Educators often speak of three learning styles: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Most people have a way taking in information that best fits their learning style. Auditory learners prefer to receive information by hearing it. Visual learners prefer seeing the information, for example through a picture or demonstration. Kinesthetic learners take in information through touching, feeling, and experiencing. Most people will have preferences, but we all use a combination of the three. We might say that the book of Revelation encourages the use of all three of these learning modes. The Revelation itself is a vivid vision, full of colors, animals, beasts, props, and elaborate details. Revelation paints a picture that’s meant to be seen in the mind’s eye. The introduction promises, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear,” which is obviously an auditory method of learning. John also adds this phrase, “and who keep what is written in it.” We could call this kinesthetic learning, since we are being encouraged to keep, experience, do, and live out the message of Revelation.

You will help your class members learn—during this unit and every Sunday—by accommodating their varied learning styles. For example, read or have read the Bible passage as dramatically as possible, show pictures of the scene and use descriptive language to paint a picture of the vision, and find concrete ways to do (keep) what the scripture passage teaches. If you use only one method, you may be making it more difficult for some of your class members to receive the message.