Imagine Cinderella did not end w/ “Happily Ever After.” Imagine Cinderella, after being married to the finest man in her world and receiving the finest clothing, jewelry, and food, taking all the gifts from her husband and using them to pay other lovers as she chases after them. The story would shock us. Yet that ending would approach the twist in an even more gut-wrenching story in Ezekiel 16. And here’s the ultimate twist: this is your story, my story, our story.
Do you have some dirt in your family tree? Did you have any troubling childhood experiences? Do you feel doomed to follow in the footsteps of the worst vices of your parents? Matthew’s Gospel presents us with a “Genesis” of the human Jesus, and it’s full of scandal, trauma, and shame.
Each of the instruments used to inflict wounds into the flesh of Jesus - the scourge, the thorns, the nails, and the spear - demonstrate the brokenness of the world. We reflect on how Jesus is carrying the wounds of the world in His wounds.
We have 4 stories intertwined in Hosea 2: Hosea and Gomer, Achan’s sin at Jericho, the Exodus, and God’s relationship to Israel. But the 5th story in this text is yours. It’s what this text is telling you about how you have treated God and what He has done in response.
The Bible is saturated with water. We scene skip through 5 moments when water plays a huge role in what God is doing…..and then ask what all this has to do with Jesus and with our baptism, in the moment and in the after-effects.
We tackle the following questions:
If it were not for your faith in the Bible, then what other convincing reasons do you have for why it is unwise or wrong to live together with a partner without being married first?
What is grace?
What is faith?
What does Paul mean when, in Romans, he speaks of “saving faith”?
The average person is comfortable with the resurrection story because they don't truly understand it and they don't grasp its conclusions. We reflect on Luke's record of Jesus' resurrection appearances and why we should either be terrified or thrilled by what it means. There is no middle ground.
Everything within us objects to the reality of death. And yet it is still here, at least for now. We explore Death as an Intruder, as an Executioner, and ultimately as One who has been defeated.
We tend to read Romans 1 as a condemnation of the Gentiles of Paul's time as immoralists and Romans 2 as a condemnation of the Jews of Paul's time as moralists...and to see ourselves as immune from looking like either group. But we all have been on either the Romans 1 path or the Romans 2 path, most likely on both at different points in our lives. But the Gospel presents a third path.
From the Garden to the Cross to the final chapters of the Bible, if you listen to the trees, they will tell you the Gospel story as a journey from life to death and back to life again.