Know Where You Stand (July 21)

Revelation 3:1-13

Comment


William Turner has this to say about the open door of the church at Philadelphia:

“The risen Christ says in verse 8 that the door is opened and no one can shut it—not Rome, not Caesar, not Greek culture, not even the weakness of this struggling church. Because Christ is present, the opportunity is clearly there. The great hindrance to the witness of any church is usually our own blindness to the opportunities, network, and handles that are there.

I once heard Arthur Caliandro, pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, describe a wonderful Hispanic employee whose first name was Jesus. Church staff leaders discovered that Jesus was an excellent painter, so he was assigned full-time to keeping the doors, ceilings, halls, and walls of the church scraped and painted. Caliandro says that one afternoon, following a meeting, he walked up to his own office and found the door propped open. It had been freshly painted and held a sign that read, ‘Sir, do not close the door. Jesus.’ Dr. Caliandro says that the sign’s message has stayed in his consciousness as a theme for his ministry. It’s a good reminder of every believer’s ministry!”

(Making Sense of the Revelation: A Clear Message of Hope, Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2000, pp. 60).

Reading the Scripture

Begin and/or end the scripture reading with these words from Revelation: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it” (Revelation 1:3).

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

•    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.)

Teaching Suggestions

•    The Formation Study Guide (pp. 74-75) tells the fascinating story of Father Samaan Ibrahim and the “garbage people” of Egypt. I have located a YouTube video about Father Samaan and the “garbage people,” available on the website.

•    Coded (Apocalyptic) Language - See Blevins’ definitions in the introduction of these Supplements:
o    Seven (3:1)

•    The Revelation is meant to be visualized. Show a picture representation of this passage. See the web site for depictions of this scene in Revelation 2-3.

•    Local features of the letters: Making Sense of the Book of Revelation by Laurie Guy (pp. 54-56) has a helpful chart listing each of the seven churches and noting how Revelation utilizes “features of the cities they inhabit.” This book is available in my office. Tommy can help you locate it if I’m not available.

•    Display maps and pictures of the places named in the passage: Sardis and Philadelphia
o    The Seven Churches of Revelation: Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996) p. 451-452.
o    Seven Churches: Oxford Bible Atlas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 158-159, E3.
o    Bible Map Guide (Common English Bible, 2011), Maps 15.
o    Seven Churches of Revelation: The Essential Bible Guide: Bible Background with Maps, Charts, and Lists, Menahse Har-El, Paul Wright, and Baruch Sarel (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2010), pp. 113-114.

•    Optical Illusions: The Formations Teaching guide contains a Resource Kit activity called “Illusions.” A few optical illusions in the print editin of Sunday School Supplements available in the church office, if you do not have access to the Resource Kit.

•    In the Revelation, Jesus says, “Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” Christ has opened the door to God so that all may enter. As a church we proclaim that message by throwing open wide our doors to all. We offer welcoming hospitality to all people. One way your class can participate in this open door ministry is through the Welcome Café. The Welcome Café is a fellowship gathering place for members and a place of greeting for guests to Sunday School. Visit the Welcome Café often before Sunday School for coffee, tea, juice and sometimes more. Schedule your class to serve as hosts for a month. See Rhonda Caldwell or call the church office for more information.

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.

•    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)

•    Three commentaries in my office may be of interest to you:
o    Making Sense of the Revelation: A Clear Message of Hope, William Turner (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2000)
o    Revelation as Drama, James L. Blevins (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1984)
o    Making Sense of the Book of Revelation, Laurie Guy (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2009), pp. 54-56

•    Maps and pictures in the library
o    The Seven Churches of Revelation: Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996) p. 451-452.
o    Seven Churches: Oxford Bible Atlas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 158-159, E3.
o    Bible Map Guide (Common English Bible, 2011), Maps 15.
o    Seven Churches of Revelation: The Essential Bible Guide: Bible Background with Maps, Charts, and Lists, Menahse Har-El, Paul Wright, and Baruch Sarel (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2010), pp. 113-114.