The More-Than-Complete Bible Study

There’s more than one way to study a Bible story!

The Lenten course “The More-Than-Complete Bible Study” dives deep into one particular New Testament passage and considers it in every dimension imaginable.

All four gospels tell the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with only a few loaves of bread and a few fish. “The More-Than-Complete Bible Study” looks at the way the story is told, how it fits into the larger narrative of Jesus’ life and how it differs both among the gospels and in various translations. The story is examined through art, music, video and film, as well as through the lenses of different theologies – conservative, liberal, liberation, progressive and process, among others. The 1st-century circumstances of the author and original listeners is considered, as well as how the story speaks to modern society and to this church in particular.

Each of the seven 90-minute sessions of “The More-Than-Complete Bible Study” is self-contained so that participants can attend according to their scheduling ability and not fall behind because of missing a session. Course material can be made available for those who want to “catch up,” but it won’t be necessary.

“The More-Than-Complete Bible Study” will be held on Saturday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Cottage, beginning Feb. 17. No registration is required; just show up!

‘Experiencing Jesus’ in Adult Education Class

Do you reject the notion of biblical inerrancy and literalism but find yourself uncertain about an alternative and compelling way of reading the Bible? What is this book if it is not the inerrant, infallible and literal revelation of God?

Do you find it difficult to believe that Jesus and Christianity are the only way of salvation and the only absolute truth, but don’t know what to make of the New Testament affirmations that Jesus is the Son of God and “the way”? Are these statements simply wrong? And if so, does this mean that all religions are relative?

Do you find the image of God that you grew up with difficult or impossible to accept? Do you doubt the existence of a person-like, authority figure that is separate from the universe, but are uncertain about what an alternative understanding of God and the sacred might be?

If any of these questions ring true to you, you might be interested in the “Experiencing Jesus” program that will begin Sunday, Feb. 4, in our Adult Education Class, which meets at 9:15 a.m. in the Cottage.

“Experiencing Jesus’ is based on Marcus Borg’s bestselling book Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary. Using art images, video clips and a highly experiential model of learning, this 20-week program of study invites participants into an emerging way of seeing and experiencing Jesus.

Don’t let the “20-week” description scare you away! The course is designed so that participants can come and go as their schedules allow. Each week’s lesson builds on previous sessions but works well individually.

Lent 2018: Getting Into Rhythm

Lent is a season of 40 days (not counting Sundays) beginning on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 14 this year) and ending on the day before Easter (April 1). Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for Easter, the 40 days representing the time Jesus spent in the wilderness enduring temptation and preparing to begin his ministry. During Lent, we symbolically and spiritually enter the wilderness with Christ to prepare ourselves for the resurrection of Easter.

This year we will spend the 40 days (plus 6 Sundays) of Lent “Getting Into Rhythm,” getting into God’s rhythm, more specifically. We’ll plug into God’s rhythm for our world and for us.

Nels Anderson from the Drum Bus will help us kick off our Lenten them of “Getting Into Rhythm” when he brings his 60-plus instruments to our all-ages worship service on Sunday, Feb. 18. Adults and kids alike will use drums to build our confidence, creativity and community!

Ash Wednesday services will be held at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the church. We’ll shed our burdens by writing them on paper and burn it, places the ashes on our foreheads as a sign of our humility and repentance.

BREATHING UNDERWATER

A recurring dream I have had for several years is of being able to breathe underwater. I’m not caught in a flood or tidal wave or storm. I haven’t fallen into some water by accident. No, instead I am calmly floating somewhere far down in the ocean, not struggling to get to the top or anything like that. Then I think to myself, “Well, I’m here. I suppose I ought to try to breathe.” And I do. And that’s it. End of dream.

If only I could solve real-life problems so calmly and easily!

The past year has many of us feeling like we’re in over our heads – drowning in bills, drowning in work, drowning in the chaos from Washington, drowning in hurt feelings and guilt, drowning in the everyday to-do list.

People who have nearly drowned (the real thing, with water) describe terrifying moments of panic, feeling out of control, waving arms and legs furiously but getting nowhere. Then, as they are able to hold their breath no longer, their body panics and breathes. Water painfully fills their lungs, and they black out.

“Breathing underwater” is not about flailing about and wasting our strength. Neither is it about giving up and letting the depths take us.

To “breathe underwater” is to recognize that we are in too deep. It means basing decisions not on panic but on calmly taking stock of the situation. It means acknowledging that we are not in control of everything that impacts us. And it means trusting something beyond ourselves.

In January, we will explore the depths of the ocean in which we find ourselves. Together we will learn ways to “breathe underwater.” And as a community of faith, we will breathe for one another, even as the Spirit breathes for all of us.

IN MEMORY OF DR. GORDON HARRINGTON

We will celebrate the life of Dr. Gordon Harrington at a memorial service at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, at the church. Gordon was a member of our church for 46 years, serving as moderator and in other leadership positions. He also held leadership positions at the conference level of the United Church of Christ. His written history of our local church, detailing the years from before our founding in 1887 until the 1950, is an important link between our past and our future. Gordon’s wife, Polly, died in July 2017, and his son Chuck passed in early 2015. Our prayers, condolences and sympathies are with his son Jonathan, his wife, Yiqi, and daughter Kela.

DISCERNING THE FUTURE OF OUR CHURCH

Then new Property Project Committee will begin studying the possibility of selling half-interest in our church property at a meeting at 10 am., Saturday, Jan. 13, at the church. If you are interested in being part of this discussion and exploration, simply show up that morning. All are welcome.