“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4).
In Revelation 21, God makes a promise of a new heaven and a new earth. In the 2022: Year of Vision Bible Study, Pastor Sarah Schaaf begins her lesson with a Story, a couple of Opening Reflections Questions, and an Introduction.
Story: People tell you that having a child will change your life. I understood that I would be different. What I didn’t anticipate, is how much having a child would transform my community. That is a gift I will forever be thankful for. When my son Isaac arrived on the scene, he brought all kinds of changes to my life, but he also changed our church. Suddenly, the trustees were very concerned about regularity with which the air vents were cleaned. Suddenly, I found people waiting for me in the parking lot. “What can I carry in?” they would say before I could even turn off the car’s ignition. Suddenly, new people, who I hadn’t really known before, emerged dedicated to the task of loving this kid well. We tend to praise the church for being steadfast, unchangeable throughout all of history, but having the capacity to be changeable is also faithful. One of the church’s most beautiful qualities is its ability to be transformed by the ones who God sends to dwell in it.
Opening Reflection Questions: Share a story of a time when you have been changed by the presence of someone. What new things did you find yourself doing in this season?
Introduction: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (21:1). Revelation envisions not just the redemption of humanity, but of all creation. God is making all things new, joining heaven and earth! This hope-filled transformation is initiated by the presence of the One who enters in.
It is a “rapture in reverse.” It has downward motion. People are not snatched up from earth, instead God comes down to earth to dwell with humanity. The home of God is among people! The Gospel of John tells us, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The Gospel of Matthew calls Jesus, “Emmanuel,” meaning “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23). Revelation envisions “He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples”. The message is clear, God loves the world so much that God comes down to be with us. Through God all of heaven and earth become new.
In order to learn more about the promise of God’s presence to make all things new, be sure to check out Lesson #4 written by Pastor Sarah Schaaf in the newly released 2022: The Year of Vision Bible Study on the Book of Revelation. This Bible study would make a great Lenten focus.
To experience the promise of God’s presence, simply follow these 5 steps:
- Download the “All Things New” Bible Study from the Synod Website
- Open (or turn on) your Bibles
- Gather with a group of friends and colleagues
- Get outside the four walls of the congregation
- Learn what God longs to teach you and how God longs to transform you.