We keep moving through Genesis, this time taking up two sets of stories about our spiritual patriarchs. One, Isaac, only exists as a prop for other characters' storylines. But the story of Jacob and Esau and Leah and Rachel and Zilpah and Bilhah—that gives us enough intrigue to really sink our teeth into. But just like last week, we have to make sure we're paying attention, so that we don't silence those voices that have traditionally been overlooked.
This week, we tackle difficult subjects. We look at Abraham and Sarah, and how they tried to work out their covenant with God. But then we also look at their collateral damage: Hagar, their slave. We try to hold to the former while not minimizing the latter.
This week, we turn to the story of the Tower of Babel. It's a myth about the origins of language, but what does meaning can modern readers get out of it? Surprisingly, in order to make sense of it now, we have to go way back to ancient cosmology. And then we need to examine how empires function. All to help us to realize that as finite beings, we must come to terms with the fact that world is fundamentally not under our control.
For our second week of our trek through the whole Bible, we look at Noah and The Great Flood. Many of us have this Sunday School version of the story in our minds. But the real story is completely different from that—violent and weird and profound. However, the real version in the Bible is not a story that we can affirm. So we examine what it means to hold these in tension.
Next week's reading is the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11). As you read, consider these questions:
- How does this story relate to the previous two weeks?
- What reasoning did God give for confusing the languages? Do you agree with that reason?
- What is the purpose of this story?
This week, we kick off our massive, 14-month sermon series, going from cover to cover of the Bible. We'll look at the huge narrative world going on and dive deep into the characters and themes that run throughout.
Of course, we begin this week with the stories of Creation. We take a look at the two different stories that start off the Bible, and how they are trying to grapple with the violent creation myths of their time. These stories contend that, instead, Creation was really a peaceful, love filled act that renders everything with an inherent worth and dignity.
For our last week of this sermon series, we look at humility. More specifically, how the Church, on the level of institutions, fails to heed its own advice on being humble. But the future of the church looks like a deep, integrated humility, which leads to partnering and diversity.
We will now post the discussion questions or reading questions from the service if they are relevant to the sermon.
What about the future of the church scares you? Excites you? Is most uncertain? Has the most potential?
This week, we examine how the Church is transformational. We begin by looking at the economics of the Church. With our changing world, the Church now has a much higher standard to hit: it must show its effectiveness to earn its keep. The main way that the Church can be effective in its task is through transformation, in terms of individuals, communities, and the world.
As we continue to think about what the future of the Church looks like, we turn now to thinking about space. Rather than maintaining the church building as the center of our world, we should de-center it, going instead into our communities where we serve and love and live. We can learn a little bit about what this might look like by examining pub churches to see how they work.