LESSONS

The Prophetic ImaginationDr. Walter Brueggemann

In his seminal work, The Prophetic ImaginationWalter Brueggemann  seeks both to awaken within us a consciousness and perception of God’s freedom to stand in contrast with the dominant culture and to energize us to live in fervent anticipation of the newness that arises from this freedom. His work provides us the narrative to intentionally engage in the process of self-examination and see where we claim an ownership of God to the detriment of others and even to ourselves. This Lenten study covers six weeks.

Readings in Epiphany

 “Epiphany” means the appearance or manifestation of a god, and it is during this season that the Church celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the world and the revealing of Jesus as God.  In this study, we are reading the great stories of the Epiphany: Visitation of the Magi (Matt. 2:1-12), Baptism of Jesus (Matt. 3), Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12), Healings and Exorcisms (Mark 235), and The Transfiguration (Mark 9). As background for the study, I am reading through Kenneth Bailey’s Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes; Rev. Ayman Kfouf’s The Holy Feast of the Theophany, Gregory of Nyssa’s Oration on the Baptism of Christ; John Calvin’s Commentary on John, Wilkie Au’s The Grateful Heart, John Chrysostom’s Homilies on Matthew and John, John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible. This Epiphany Study is for five weeks.

2024

Elijah – An Advent Study

In this extended Advent Study, we are reading through the stories of Elijah set forth in 1 Kings 17 – 2 Kings 2. In Jewish thought, Elijah is seen as a foreshadowing of the Messiah and Elijah’s return was the harbinger of the eschatological Day of the Lord. See, Mal. 4:5Matt. 17:10. Elijah is an example and a calling for our advent preparation. As background material, I will be using excerpts from Walter Brueggemann’s Testimony to Otherwise: The Witness of Elijah and Elisha and Daniel Matt’s Becoming Elijah: Prophet of Transformation. This Advent study is for four weeks.  

Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You ArePastor Tim Sorens 

In his book, Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You ArePastor Tim Sorens explores the question “What is the purpose of the Church?”  His concern in this book is not what the church believes or how we worship on Sunday morning but having us think through how the local parish church can take practical and actionable steps to be the light and leaven where we live and work, and not simply an end unto itself. This autumn study covers eight weeks.

The Second Epistle of Peter

In this summer study, we are reading through 2 Peter. This letter was written to both undergird the faith in the second coming and to warn against false teachers. The writer of the letter is unknown, but the underlying message most likely goes back to Peter himself. For the background of this study, I am using Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament, Ben Witherington’s Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, Vol. II, and Amy-Jill Levine’s The Jewish Annotated New Testament. This summer study is for four weeks.

The First Epistle of Peter

In this summer study, we are reading through 1 Peter. This letter was written to give encouragement and hope to those Christians undergoing persecution. Peter’s exhortation is for his audience to remain firm in their faith in the face of persecution as they recall their baptism. For the background of this study, I am using Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament, Ben Witherington’s Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, Vol. II, and Amy-Jill Levine’s The Jewish Annotated New Testament. (Pastor Joshua Sorrows of Harvest Church in Conway led this study.) This summer study is for five weeks.

The Way of Love

In his book The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following JesusRev. Scott Gunn of Forward Movement begins with the two very foundational commandments of our faith: Love God and Love your Neighbor. Matt. 22:37-39. Or as John tells us – God is love, and when we love we are of God, and when we do not love we are not of God. 1 John 4:7-12. In looking at these verses, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry says we are part of the Jesus Movement that is “built on the unconditional love of God for the world and the mandate to live that love.” This book is the practical guide to cultivating certain ancient Christian practices so that we may live into that love and be the Jesus Movement to and in the world. These seven practices are: Turn. Learn. Pray. Worship. Bless. Go. Rest. This Eastertide study covers seven weeks.

Prayer in the Night – Compline

In her book Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or WeepRev. Tish Harrison Warren takes us through her personal journey of a dark night of the soul when she experienced her own vulnerability, suffering, and God’s seeming absence. Within this darkness, she found strength and comfort within the final prayer of ComplineKeep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen. In her book, she takes us through this prayer as a way to speak to God into the darkness and as a way to see the world around us more clearly and to appreciate the beauty that remains even within the brokenness of our lives. This Epiphany/Lenten study covers twelve weeks.

2023

The Carols of Christmas

In The Carols of Christmas, Alan Vermilye takes us through four well-known Christmas carols (one per week), providing us with a short history of the carol and a daily devotional about the respective carol. The carols being sung and discussed are O Holy NightI Heard the Bells on Christmas DayO Little Town of Bethlehem, and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. This Advent study covers four weeks.

Parables of Kingdom, Grace, Judgment – Robert F. Capon

In his book, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment – Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of JesusRev. Robert F. Capon takes us on a unique and adventurous look at Jesus’ parables in the larger light of their entire gospel and biblical context. Rev. Capon reminds us that when we begin to dig deeper into the actual parables themselves, we begin to realize that they are strange, bizarre, complex, and disturbing. They are not tidy moralistic stories, but try to upend tidy moralistic notions. Bad people get rewarded, good people are scolded, God is often compared to an irritable person, fairness is absent, and the idea of who should be first or be rewarded is turned upside down. The very purpose of the parables, it appears, is not to be nice but to disturb our religious understandings and that is a challenge.  As a companion to this study, I have used the blog posts of the Rev. Aiden Kimel at Eclectic Orthodoxy. This study covers approximately ten weeks.

The Revelation to St. John

The final book of our Bibles is by far the most misunderstood, misquoted, and generally abused or ignored book of the Scriptures. As we study the Revelation to St. John, we will place the book within its literary and historical context and envision how this extraordinary book speaks to us in the church today. Revelation is a liturgical book centered around worship and it tells us that evil is conquered, the saints are redeemed, and a new creation will be brought about not through the force of arms but through the blood of the Lamb and the testimony/martyrdom of Its followers. In preparation for the study I am primarily using Dr. Michael J. Gorman’s Reading Revelation Responsibly and Fr. Lawrence R. Farley’s The Apocalypse of St. John. I will also be using Reading Revelation in Prison, a blog post by Richard Beck in “Experimental Theology”, the chapter on “The Meaning and Mystery of Wrath” in The Prophets by Abraham Heschel, and the relevant portions of Her Gates Will Never Shut by Brad Jersak and The Writings of the New Testament by Luke Timothy Johnson and Commentary on the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament by G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson. This study covers fifteen weeks.

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 Lenten study 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 Epiphany study covers seven weeks.

2022

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.

Jonah – A Difficult Story of God’s Mercy

In this four-week study, we read through the story of Jonah. At its core, Jonah is a polemic against a nationalistic retributive understanding of God who destroys our enemies in favor of a universal understanding of God abounding in such great mercy as to require us to not only love our enemies but to intercede for their redemption. Jonah holds us to account for our selfishness which causes us to flee from the love of neighbor and delight in the downfall of others. For the background of this study, I am using Tyndale’s Old Testament Commentary on Jonah (academic approach), Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz’s Jonah – A Social Justice Commentary (modern application approach), and Dr. Robert Alter’s Strong as Death is Love (academic and application). This study covers four weeks.

1 John

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. This Eastertide study 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 study covers six weeks

Saints in Lent

During Lent in 2021, I was asked to give a short meditation on a saint during our mid-week services. The assigned saint was based on the Calendar. The five meditations are Matthais, the Wesley Brothers, Gregory the Great, Patrick, and the Annunciation.

The Gospel According to 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 study covers seven weeks.

2021

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 study 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 study covers thirteen weeks and 1 Samuel 16 through 1 Kings 2.

The Resurrection Narratives

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 study 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 study covers six weeks.

The Story of Creation

The Story of Creation takes a close reading of the 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 study covers seven weeks.

2020

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 study 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 covers four weeks.

The Pastoral Epistles

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 lesson covers thirteen weeks.

Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr

In his book, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self, Fr. Richard Rohr writes about personal transformation and how the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is not simply a historical event but is a present reality in which we are all called to participate. As Paul writes, we are crucified with Christ and Christ was raised from the dead so that we too might walk in a new and transformed life. Rom 6:4-11. Particularly during the Easter season, we are called to die to our old ego-centric “False Self,” and be resurrected and transformed into a new Christ-centric “True Self.”  It is this Christ-centric True Self that is Rohr’s Immortal Diamond. This Eastertide study covers six weeks.

Ecclesiastes – A Lenten Study

In this Lenten Study, we will be discussing the first half of Ecclesiastes. The theme of Ecclesiastes is that the things of this world are no more substantive than a vapor that soon disappears and is forgotten. The writer reminds us that regardless of how wise or righteous we are, death comes for us all. During Lent, as we walk with Jesus towards Jerusalem and ultimately Golgotha, we are faced with the question of whether death also comes for God’s Wisdom incarnate who exhibits the perfect Righteousness of God. For if death comes for Him, then all that we do is in vain. Therefore, Ecclesiastes compels us, like the male disciples on Easter morning, to run to see if the rumor of the empty grave and the defeat of death itself is true. For background of this study, I have used the JPS Bible Commentary: Ecclesiastes by Michael Fox, The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus, and The Resurrection of the Son of God (Ch. 3) by N.T. Wright. This Lenten study covers five to six weeks.

Bad Girls of the Bible – Liz Curtis Higgs

In her book, Bad Girls of the Bible – And What We Can Learn from Them, Liz Curtis Higgs takes us on a wonderful adventure looking at the ten best-known femmes fatales found in Scripture. Mrs. Higgs has a wonderful insight into these women and their struggles and personalities, and what they can teach us today. Her blog on this book is HERE. This Epiphany study covers eight to ten weeks.

2019

Praying With Icons of the Virgin – An Advent Study with Abp. Rowan Willams

In his book Ponder These Things: Praying with Icons of the Virgin, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams invites us to explore and reflect on the depths of meaning in three classic icons of the Virgin and her child from the Eastern Christian tradition. Advent is the ideal time to engage with the Holy Mother of God for it is through her that the Incarnation occurs. This Advent study covers one to two weeks.

The Epistle of Jude

In this study, we are reading through the Epistle of Jude. Jude is more of a sermon in letter form written as an exhortation to a community of believers. The overall purpose of Jude is to appeal to the faith once delivered against certain false teachers. For background on this study, I have used Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament, David Bentley Hart’s translation and notations in his translation of the New Testament, and the Book of Enoch from which Jude quotes and references extensively. This study is for one to two weeks.

The Epistle of James

In this study, we are reading through the Epistle of James. James is one of the “catholic” epistles (like John and Jude) because, unlike Paul’s letters, James is not writing to a particular congregation with particular issues but to the universal church at large. James’s concern is with the horizontal interpersonal relationships – how members of a Christian community relate to one another – and not with the vertical relationship between his audience and God specifically. James is a work of moral exhortation teaching us what “faith working through love” looks like in practice.  For background on this study, I have used Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament and the Anchor-Yale Bible Commentary on James and Ben Witherington’s Letters for Jewish Christians – A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. This study covers five to six weeks.

Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians

In this summer study, we are reading through Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. The occasion of this letter is to answer the question of whether a Gentile must become obedient to the Biblical Law in order to be a Christian. Within this letter, we encounter the pure distillation of Paul’s Gospel and its message of radical inclusiveness. For background on this study, I have used N.T. Wright’s Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians and Justification, Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians, Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament, Troels Engberg-Pedersen’s Paul and the Stoics, and notes from David Bently Hart’s The New Testament. This summer study covers eleven weeks.

Becoming a Healing Presence – Dr. Albert S. Rossi

Dr. Albert S. Rossi is the resident clinical psychologist at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, New York, and the professor of pastoral theology at the seminary. In his book, Becoming Healing Presence, Dr. Rossi tells us that we are called to love our neighbor, and one means to do so is to give them the healing and peace of Jesus Christ. To become this healing presence for others we must first be continuously healed and renewed ourselves through an active relationship with Jesus, because we cannot pass on that which we do not possess.  In the book, Dr. Rossi points the way toward deepening our love for God and for each other so that others may experience Christ through us.  For Dr. Rossi, the key to becoming a healing presence is simply to “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:11). For it is only in still waters (Psalm 23:2) that we can both see beyond the surface and also see a reflection of ourselves. This Eastertide study covers nine weeks.

Book of Consolation (Isaiah 40-55)

In this Lenten study, we will be looking at Isaiah’s Book of Consolation contained in Isaiah 40-55 with a specific focus on the four Suffering Servant Songs found in Isaiah 42:1-4Isaiah 49:1-6Isaiah 50:4-9, and Isaiah 52:13-53:12. For background, I am using The Suffering Servant in Deutero-Isaiah by Christopher North, excerpts from The Prophets by Abraham Heschel, and a chapter from The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann. This Lenten study covers four weeks.

His Great Name – Joanne Ellison

In her book, His Great Name, Joanne Ellison takes us on an exploration of the different names that the Hebrew Scriptures use for “God.” These various names convey a sacred understanding of the different ways in which God interacts with and relates to his people. This Epiphany study is six weeks.

2018

Martin Luther’s Christmas Sermons

This study is a collection of abridged versions of Martin Luther’s sermons for the Advent and Christmas seasons contained in Martin Luther’s Christmas Book. His Christmas sermons help bring the reality of the Nativity story to life. This Advent study covers three weeks.

Hymns of the Church

During this study on Hymns of the Church, we begin with a review of the history of (Anglican) hymnody. Each subsequent week, we study and sing our way through several hymns drawn from the ancient church, the 1982 Hymnal, and contemporary Christian music. This study is for six weeks.

Paul’s Epistle to the Romans

In this summer study, we read through Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. This is the only letter Paul wrote to a congregation that he had not yet visited. In this letter, Paul walks us through the fullness of his gospel message. For background on this study, I have used Ben Witherington’s Romans – A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, N. T. Wright’s Paul for Everyone and Justification, Troels Engberg-Pedersen’s Paul and the Stoics, Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament, and D. A. Carson’s Commentary on the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament. This study covers fifteen weeks.

The Great Divorce – C. S. Lewis

In his book, The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis gives us a description of those individuals from Gray Town (Hell) who are being given the opportunity to enter Heaven should they simply relinquish their one true love in favor of God.  Each character’s story allows us to contemplate those things in our lives which we also place before our love of God. This Lenten study is five weeks.  

The CreedLuke Timothy Johnson

In his book, The Creed – What Christians Believe and Why it MattersDr. Luke Timothy Johnson leads us through a discussion of the origin and purpose of the Nicene Creed and then will lead us through a discussion of each statement in the Nicene Creed showing us where it came from, what it means, and why the statement is integral to our Christian faith today.  Dr. Johnson is a former Benedictine monk (Roman Catholic) and spent most of his career as the professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Emory University. As additional background material for our discussions, I have also used the Early Christian Creeds by J.N. D. Kelly, Clues to the Nicene Creed by David Willis, and various other secondary sources. This Epiphany study covers eight weeks.

2017

Advent in Isaiah (Isa. 2, 7, 11, 35)

In this Advent Study, we read through the four Advent readings of Isaiah contained in Year A. These readings are: Isaiah 2:1-5 concerning the future House of God, Isaiah 11:1-10 on the future Peaceful Kingdom of God, Isaiah 35:1-10 about the Return of the Redeemed, and Isaiah 7:10-17 where the sign of Immanuel is given.  This Advent study is one week.

Hebrews

In this study, we are reading through Epistle to the Hebrews. Here, we have one long-sustained argument and apologetic for the Christian faith where the writer will take us through the Hebrew Scriptures and show us the superiority of the New Covenant in Christ over the Old Covenant of Moses and the prophets. As background to our study, I am reading through William Barclay’s Letter to the Hebrews and Luke Timothy Johnson’s excerpt on Hebrews in The Writings of the New Testament. This study is for ten weeks. (Because Fr. Gabrial Bullock of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church taught the study, the below posts are quite sparse.)

The Beatitudes

In this section, we are studying the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:3-12 using John Stott’s workbook The Beatitudes: Developing Spiritual Character.  We will also be reading relevant excerpts from Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount,  Gregory of Nyssa’s Sermons on the Beatitudes, and Kenneth Bailey’s chapter on the Beatitudes from Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. This study is for eight weeks.

Paul’s Letters to the Thessalonians

In this summer study, we read through Paul’s two letters to the Thessalonians. In these letters, Paul’s focus is on eschatology (end-times).  Paul’s writing, however, is not intended to provide systematic theological instruction, but to provide pastoral care and instruction to an anxious congregation. For background on this study, I have used N.T. Wright’s Paul for Everyone, Galatians and Thessalonians, Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament, and Abraham Malherbe’s Paul and the Popular Philosophers. This summer study covers six weeks.

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming – Fr. Henri J. M. Nouwen

In his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming,  Fr. Henri J. M. Nouwen writes about his encounter with Rembrandt’s painting of the same name based upon Jesus’ parable in Luke 15:11-32.  Within his book, Nouwen explores three major themes: 1) how each of us is the spendthrift, prodigal, younger son, and the judgmental, resentful, elder son; 2) how Jesus perfects both the younger and the elder son; and 3) how we are ultimately called to become the loving, forgiving father. As additional background material for our discussion, Kenneth Bailey’s The Cross and the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants. This Lenten study covers five weeks.

Crazy Christians – Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

In his book, Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow JesusPresiding Bishop Michael Curry challenges us to be crazy enough to love like Jesus, to give like Jesus, to forgive like Jesus, to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God― like Jesus. The book is a collection of his addresses delivered at the Diocesan conventions of the Diocese of North Carolina. The Epiphany study covers five weeks.

2016

Mary – An Advent Study

For Advent this year, Fr. Gabriel Bullock of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church is leading us in a study of Mary. As background to our study, I am reading through the Protoevangelium of JamesMary and The Fathers of the Church by Luigi Gambero, and The Mystery of Christ by The Very Rev. John Behr. This study is for two weeks.

The Gospel of Mark

In this study, Fr. Gabriel Bullock of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church is leading us through the Gospel of Mark. All that is needed for this study is your Bible. For background in this study, I am reading The Writings of the New Testament by Luke Timothy Johnson, The Anchor-Yale Bible Commentary on Mark edited by Joel Marcus, and The Genesis of Secrecy by Frank Kermode. This is a ten-week study.

The Lord’s Prayer

In this study, we are walking through the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13. As secondary sources, I have used Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey, On the Lord’s Prayer – Tertullian, Cyprian, & Origen by St. Vladimir’s Press, Sacred Dissertations on the Lord’s Prayer by Herman Witsius, The Institutes (Book 3, Chapter 20) by John Calvin, and The Lord’s Prayer – A Collection of Historical Writings by Curtis Rose. This study is for five weeks.

The Imitation of Christ –  Thomas à Kempis

The Imitation of Christ is the most-read book in Christianity after the Bible. It is the high point of medieval spirituality where the goal is for the believer to truly partake of the divine image and nature. Its study requires a contemplative heart, not an analytical mind. The work is composed of four books. The first three books concern the purgative, illuminative, and unitive stages of spiritual growth which are analogous to the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ. The fourth book is an extended meditation on the Eucharist. I used this version with commentary along with Vedic Commentary on the work. The book was studied over three Eastertides. Books 1 and 2 cover nine weeks, Book 3 covers 6 weeks, and Book 4 covers 4 weeks.

Looking Through the CrossRev. Dr. Graham Tomlin

In Looking Through the Cross (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2021 Lenten Study), Dr. Graham Tomlin guides us on a deeply spiritual and personal exploration of the meaning of the Cross and how it does and should impact our everyday lives. This lesson covers seven weeks.

2015

Luke’s Infancy Narrative

In this two-week Advent study, we read through the Christmas story as found in Luke 1-2. We look at how this story provides a bridge between the Old and New Testaments and how Luke’s story is very different than portrayed in our Christmas pageants. For the background of this study, I have used Kenneth Bailey’s Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes, N.T. Wright’s Luke for Everyone,  Kurt Willems’s The Roman Empire During the Time of Jesus, and D.A. Carson’s Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. This Advent study is for two weeks. 

Amos

In this study, we discuss how Amos confronts and criticizes the religious-political elites of Israel who obey only the outward trappings of God’s Law while simultaneously exploiting the poor and perverting justice, and how his message speaks to us today. As background for this study, I have used The Prophets by Abraham Heschel and Amos, Doing What is Right by Robert Baker. This study covers five weeks.

On the Incarnation – Athanasius

In this study, we read through St. Athanasius’ classic work On the Incarnation. Athanasius gives us the very framework for understanding the reasons and reality of the Incarnate Logos in the person of Jesus Christ. In this lesson, I have used Fr. John Behr’s Introduction, C.S. Lewis’s Introduction, and excerpts from Reading Scriptures with the Church Fathers by Christopher Hall. This study covers seven weeks.

2014

Abraham

In this study, we explore the stories of Abraham from the perspective of Jesus, Paul, and their Jewish contemporaries in an attempt to read the Old Testament the way they did. The readings include the Genesis account of Abraham, other verses of Scripture, and other writings from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic perspectives. For the general outline of the teaching, I used How to Read the Bible by James Kugel. This was one of our first studies, and I send only one email each week with an attached study outline and readings. This study covers six weeks.

2013