LESSONS

Living His Story – A Lenten Study

In Living His Story (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2021 Lenten Study), the Rev. Dr. Hannah Steele explores evangelism as a way of sharing God’s love with our neighbors in a post-Christian world. Evangelism is an invitation to others to switch stories and therefore to a changed life. Lent is the ideal time for us to recover and relearn our story so that we are then prepared to share the Good News of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. This lesson covers seven weeks.

Adam & the Fall

In this study, we read the story of Adam & the Fall as given to us in Genesis 2:4-3:24. The creation story of Genesis 1 that we studied in Epiphany 2020 is the story of God and his bringing about all that is seen and unseen. The story of Genesis 2-3 is the story of us. It is a story that seeks to tell us who we are and the very nature of our human condition. This story prepares us for Jesus who took upon himself our human nature and who perfected the same through his incarnation, obedience, and resurrection. Rom. 5:12-211 Cor. 15:42-50. As preparation for the study, I am using the JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis, the writings of Richard Beck, a lecture by Jordan Peterson, and St. Athanasius’s On the Incarnation. This lesson covers seven weeks.

Matthew’s Infancy Narrative

In this three-week Advent study, we read through the Christmas story as found in Matthew 1-2. Our story begins with the genealogy of Jesus, continues with his birth as told through the eyes of Joseph, and ends with the visitation of the Magi. For the background of this study, I have used N.T. Wright’s Matthew for Everyone and Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth – The Infancy Narratives.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

In his book, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis gives us an account of our human condition from the perspective of a demon named Screwtape. The demon’s accounts are found in a series of letters written to his younger nephew Wormwood on how best to tempt a British man, called “the Patient,” into sin and, eventually, into Hell. Wormwood is an inexperienced devil, and Screwtape shares with Wormwood his knowledge, experience, and skill derived from his many years of tempting humans to abandon God. In preparation for the weekly gatherings, I have used a Study Guide created by the C.S. Lewis Foundation, the Spark Notes on the book, and a Study Guide of discussion questions by Alan Vermilye. John Cleese’s reading of the book is brilliant. This study covers eight weeks.

1 John – Summer Study

In this eight-week summer study, we read John’s letter to a community in turmoil where John reminds his people and us of the good news of God’s unmerited Love and our calling to demonstrate that love towards others. For background on this study, I have used Ben Witherington’s Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, Lukie Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament, and Oliver Clement’s On Human Being. This summer study covers six to eight weeks.

Everywhere Present – A Contemplative Study

In his book, Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey UniverseFr. Stephen Freeman (OCA) seeks to awaken us to the Reality of God’s living and active presence in our lives. God is not confined in a heaven distanced from our present existence or only found at the end of time but is truly transformingly present in the here and now. We simply must open our eyes. The Easter lesson covers six weeks.

Passion Predictions in the Gospel of John

In this Lenten study we read and reflect on the Passion predictions in the Gospel of John. These are the statements of Jesus where Jesus speaks about his death and resurrection. Through the study and meditation on these verses, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. For background in this study, I have used D.A. Carson’s Commentary on the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament. This Lenten Lesson covers six weeks

Johnny Cash

In this study we read through Richard Beck’s book Trains, Jesus, and Murder – The Gospel According to Johnny Cash. The book grew out of a bible study Beck leads at a local maximum-security prison. In the book, Beck shows us how Cash, like Jesus, brings us into the presence of the marginalized and forgotten people of our society – the imprisoned, the heartbroken, the beaten down, Native Americans, common laborers, drug addicts and those who have never felt the love of Jesus. For the men that Cash sang to and about or the men that Beck leads in bible study, sin and its consequences and the promise of one-day being free are not theoretical ideas to be discussed, but an ever-present reality that is lived. In many ways, Cash’s songs are a psalmody for our time. This Epiphany Lesson covers seven weeks.

Leo the Great at Christmas

Leo the Great was the bishop of Rome from 440 until his death in 461. In the annals of history, he is best known for convincing Attila the Hun to spare Rome and cease his Italian campaign. In Church History, Leo is best known for his arguments in carrying the day at the Council of Chalcedon that Christ is of two natures in one person. His Christmas sermons reflect his emphasis on the centrality of the Incarnation to our Faith. This Advent Lesson covers three weeks and his sermons 21 and 26.

The Story of King David

In the Story of King David, we walk through the entire saga of King David from the anointing of a young shepherd boy by the prophet Samuel until his death in old age and his son Solomon’s securing the throne. David not only gives us a great story that rivals anything HBO has to offer, but allows us to dive deep into the Scriptures and find Jesus. For background in this study, I have used David Wolpe’s book David: The Divided Heart and David Payne’s commentary on I & II Samuel. This Fall Lesson covers thirteen weeks and 1 Samuel 16 through 1 Kings 2.

The Resurrection in Scripture

In this unit on the Resurrection we explore the various New Testament writers’ understanding of the nature of Jesus’ Resurrection and what it means for us on the other side of the Resurrection. We also look into the post-Easter feast days of Pentecost, Ascension, and Trinity. For background in this study, I have used N. T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God. The Eastertide Lesson covers eight weeks.

Being Disciples – A Lenten Study with Abp. Rowan Williams

In his book, Being Disciples – Essential of the Christian Life, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams gives us a series of short reflections calling us into the slow, deep simplicity of living into discipleship. It is a beautifully written contemplative book guiding us in the ways to become more like the One whom we worship. This Lenten Lesson covers six weeks.

The Story of Creation

The Story of Creation takes a close reading of first creation story in Genesis 1:1-2:3 within its historical, linguistic, and Scriptural context. Within the first chapter of Scripture we explore topics such as the nature of God, the work of the Trinity, the nature of time, how to read the Scriptures, the (non-)existence of evil, who we are, the nature of salvation, and our responsibilities to creation and to each other. For background in this study, I have used primarily Bereishit (Genesis) Rabbah, the JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis, and St. Augustine’s Confessions. This Epiphany Lesson covers seven weeks.

Malachi – An Advent Lesson

In this brief advent study, we look at how the prophet Malachi reminds us that Advent is not a time of preparation for the arrival of a baby, but that Advent is the time of preparation of the Lord God of Hosts inserting himself into human history. This Advent Lesson covers two (or four) weeks.

Sermon on the Mount

In this study, we read through the Sermon on the Mount (excluding the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer) as found in Matthew 5-7. For background in this study, I have primarily used Oswald Chamber’s Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Emmet Fox’s Sermon on the Mount, and Soren Kierkegaard’s The Lily of the Field and the Bird of the Air. This Lesson covers six weeks.

Works of Love – Søren Kierkegaard

In this study, we read through abridged excerpts of Søren Kierkegaard’s book Works of Love as found in Provocation – The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard. Here Kierkegaard explores the outworkings of the duty to love your neighbor as yourself. I have personally found these excerpts to be the most profound discussion on this greatest commandment. This lesson cover four weeks.

The Pastoral Epistles – Summer Study

In this summer study, we read through Paul’s Pastoral Epistles – 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. These letters contain Paul’s advice and encouragement to a younger apostle. For background on this study, I have used N.T. Wright’s Paul for Everyone, 1 &2 Timothy and Titus, Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament, and Abraham Malherbe’s Paul and the Popular Philosophers. This summer study covers thirteen weeks.