"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)

Small group Bible study: angels in training

So, what do angels do anyway? How do I bring a more angelic character to my life today, on earth? Explore teachings from the Bible and the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg on the topic of angels and consider how these teachings can help you to live well, with kindness and service to others, today.

Gather some friends together and utilize this small group outline as structure and a starting point for a small group study and discussion (also great for individual study, or with a partner).

Click on a week, below, to see an outline for the weekly group meeting.

Week one: being an angel is all about being useful

Readings

“It is not so difficult to live the life of heaven as some believe.” (Emanuel Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell 533)

Discussion questions

  • What are your impressions of what angels do?
  • What are these ideas based on? Do they resonate?
  • When have you felt the greatest joy in life?
  • Does the notion that angels are constantly engaged in useful service resonate with you? What resistance do you have to this idea?
  • How does it change/impact your concept of what you should be doing now/today?

Focus/task

This week instead of viewing your duties/responsibilities/jobs as a burden, try to see them as a gift. How can you infuse your current responsibilities with the joy of knowing you are serving the Lord?

Week two: angels are messangers

Readings

[Speaking to Zacharias in the temple] “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.” (Luke 1:19)

Discussion questions

  • What kind of messages do you hear online? In print? On the radio? From your friends? Co-workers? Neighbors? Are they angelic?
  • What is the quality of messages that angels carry?
  • Do they seem authentic to you?
  • Do you believe them?

Focus/task

Observe the messages you carry, about yourself, others, your workplace, your school, your country. Are they joyful? Positive? Hopeful? This week commit to carrying a message of hopefulness and joy. Even in the face of hopeless situations pray that the Lord might help you to be a messenger of good news about life and the possibility of miracles.

Week three: angels guard and protect people

Readings

“The average person, of course, is not so much threatened by fire or hungry lions as he is by his own burning hatred or insatiable desires. Angels protect us from these, too.” (John Odhner)

Discussion questions

  • What does guarding and protecting others look like in your life?
  • Is it guarding their reputation? Their innocence? Their self esteem?
  • How can you encourage a safe environment in your home, school, or workplace?

Focus/task

This week purposefully guard your own tongue that you might protect others from discouragement, teasing, sarcasm, and negativity. When you see others being attacked, prayerfully consider how you could help to protect them. Then, take courageous action.

Week four: angels offer comfort

Readings

“When we cried to the Lord, He heard our voice, and sent an angel.” (Numbers 20:16)

Discussion questions

  • Does offering comfort come easily to you?
  • Why might you hesitate?
  • Think of a time someone has effectively comforted you. What did they say? Do? Not say? Not do?

Focus/task

Consider areas of your life where you have experienced discomfort, pain, or suffering. Might the lessons you have learned from this experience help you offer comfort to another? Make a point this week to comfort someone who is struggling.

Week five: angels work together

Readings

“[N]o one becomes an angel or comes into heaven except one who brings an angelic character with him from the world. Present in an angelic character is a knowledge of the way from walking in it, and a walking in the way through a knowledge of it.” (Emanuel Swedenborg, Divine Providence 60)

Discussion questions

  • How does viewing yourself on one team with others impact your opinion and attitude about their actions and behaviors?
  • How does it change your own behaviors?
  • What would it look like to work with more unity in your job? Family? Friendships? Neighborhood?
  • Where do you notice discord? Is there a step you could take towards greater unity? What part of you resists?

Focus/task

This week strive for mutual cooperation in your work and your relationships.

Week six: angels rest in the Lord

Readings

“In the world, you will have tribulation; But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Discussion questions

  • Think of the cultural imagery of angels resting. What might this mean on a spiritual level?

Focus/task

What would it look like for you to stop worrying?

Full issue

Daily Inspiration

"There is no adequate way to describe God except in terms of pure love and pure mercy towards the whole human race. That mercy is God's desire to save everyone, to make everyone happy forever, and to give us everything He has."

Arcana Coelestia 1735