Connections Summary

January–April 2020

Unit 1: Amazing Grace

Keith Durso

The four lessons in this unit will help us understand the meaning of grace. First, we will learn that grace is God’s doing for us what we cannot do on our own: reconciling the world to himself through Jesus. Next, we will discover that grace is inclusive, transcending every human-made obstacle. Lesson three will teach us that God enriches us by transforming spiritual paupers into spiritual tycoons whose mission is to enrich others. The final lesson will discuss how grace unifies people through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Unit 2: Listen and Learn

Emily Holladay

In this unit’s lessons, we will listen to and learn from four Old Testament passages about
God’s ways for God’s people. First, we will examine how God calls God’s people to practice justice, kindness, and humility. Next, we will study God’s call for God’s people to do justice on behalf of the oppressed, as delivered by the prophet Isaiah. Third, we will explore Moses’ address to the people as they prepare to enter the promised land. Finally, we will find God giving Moses and other leaders insight into who God is and what God wants.

Unit 3: Psalms for Lent

Bill and Katie Treadway, Alicia Porterfield, Alexis James Waggoner

In this Lenten unit, we will look to five psalms for guidance, challenge, and inspiration in our Lenten reflections. First, Psalm 32 will remind us that when we confess our sins, God forgives us. Next, Psalm 121 will point us toward God’s loving care for us. Third, Psalm 95 will remind us that we serve the God who forms us to be God’s people. Then, Psalm 23 will comfort us with the assurance that God leads us through everything we experience in our lives. Finally, Psalm 130 will assure us that God listens and responds to us when we call out to God. Together, these five psalms will call us to a renewed awareness of God’s great mercy.

Unit 4: Christ the Lord

Aimee Day Yeager

This unit focuses on how the events of the first Easter can affect our Easter celebration and
our lives as followers of the resurrected Lord. By contemplating how we can find power and show love through vulnerability, we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the many sides of peace it brings. We will also celebrate fellowship, noting how even the most everyday items of sustenance can be holy when they are shared with love in the presence of the risen Christ. As we remember and reflect on Jesus’ death and resurrection, we will embrace all the ways those long-ago events help, challenge, and inspire us today.

May–August 2020

Unit 1: Present, Past, and Future Church

Ed Sunday-Winters

Individual believers live out their faith in the company of others. The church community is where individuals learn about the Christian life and experience love, grace, and generosity. The four lessons in this unit will help us understand our place in this community, discern how faithfulness shapes who we are as a community, proclaim our message effectively and authentically, and finally, fellowship with God and each other through prayer.

Unit 2: The State of the Church

Leigh Powers

In this unit’s five lessons, we will ask questions about the state of the church and will find our answers in 1 and 2 Corinthians and Romans. First, we’ll focus on how the body of believers is unified in Christ and its many gifts enable the church to minister. Second, we will explore the importance of reflecting on our faithfulness and understanding how to measure it. Third, we’ll discover the powerful hope we have because of Christ’s death and the ways we can tap into that hope to bless others and sustain ourselves. Fourth, we’ll question how alive we are. Caught in the endless rhythm of routine and redundancy, we can lose sight of our identity as people of the resurrection. Last, we will seek to understand our level of obedience and what our obedience reveals about our relationship with God.

Unit 3: Enduring Imagery

Lori Walke

In this unit, we will look to five passages in the Gospel of Matthew for relief from the burdens of judgmentalism and arrogance. We’ll focus first on the image of the yoke as a way to carry these burdens, then on images in the parable of the sower and the parable of the wheat and the weeds. We’ll conclude by drawing on several images Jesus used to describe the kingdom of heaven. All the images—yoke, soil, weeds, yeast, and seed—are ordinary and commonplace, confounding expectations and challenging the status quo. By the end of this unit, we’ll be forced to ask how often we see the ways of heaven in ordinary objects.

Unit 4: God’s Mysterious Grace

Camilla Hempstead

This five-lesson unit focuses on stories from Genesis and Exodus where a character is trapped in some way and rescued by God. The first story tells of Jacob, wrestling with God at the Jabbok River before meeting his brother again after many years. The next two stories tell of Joseph, first captured by his brothers and threatened with death, then in power in Egypt with his brothers bowing before him. The final two stories tell of Moses, first as an infant set adrift in the Nile River, then as a shepherd called from within a burning bush to lead his people to freedom. God’s grace gives each of these biblical figures a new start, aiding them in their struggles just as God aids us in ours.