LIVING WATERS LUTHERAN CHURCH - INTERACTIVE BIBLE STUDY
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All Saints celebrates the baptized people of God, living and dead, who are the body of Christ. As November heralds the dying of the landscape in many northern regions, the readings and liturgy call us to remember all who have died in Christ and whose baptism is complete. At the Lord’s table we gather with the faithful of every time and place, trusting that the promises of God will be fulfilled and that all tears will be wiped away in the new Jerusalem.
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
First Reading: Revelation 7:9-17
The book of Revelation is written to seven churches in western Asia Minor during a time of great oppression. Today’s reading is a response to the question asked in 6:17: “Who is able to stand?” The writer gives the faithful the assurance of God’s protection and a vision of victory.
9After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
11And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12singing,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
16They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;
17for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-3
A saint is one who has been set apart by God for God’s purposes. God, out of divine love, set us apart to be the children of God. Our holy hope is that we shall see God as God really is.
1See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 3And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
In the Beatitudes, Jesus provides a unique description of those who are blessed with God’s favor. His teaching is surprising and shocking to those who seek wealth, fame, and control over others.
1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
LIVING WITH THE TEXT
- How does the ninth Beatitude (vs. 11) differ in form from the first 8? Is the ninth a climax to the others? How does it summarize them? What is its relationship to the others?
- What is the flow or progression of thought in the Beatitudes? Is there a linear progression?
- What kind of people are called “blessed”? What sort of person did Jesus praise?
- What is the meaning of “meek” (vs. 5)? How do other versions of the Bible translate the word? Why do Western people abhor the notion that they and their country should be meek?
- Who is the chief actor in each of these lessons?
- Luther said that God hides himself in weakness. How is that weakness evident in the Gospel? How have you experienced God’s power in your own weakness?
- How are the Beatitudes gracious announcements of who we are in Christ rather than laws demanding what we must do to be in Christ?