Connections Summary

September–December 2021

Unit 1: Living Wisely

Mark D. Hinds

This unit explores four characteristics of living faithfully as God’s people: fairness, listening, character, and courage. The first three lessons are based on Proverbs, a book in the Wisdom tradition of Ancient Israel. Session 1 introduces a fundamental concern of wisdom: just treatment of those who are poor. Session 2 explores the character of Woman Wisdom, who calls out to anyone who will listen to heed her warnings. Session 3 invites us to review the characteristics of the ideal woman, the good and strong wife, a concrete image of the wisdom that Proverbs seeks to instill in all of us. Finally, session 4 focuses on the story of Esther in the book which bears her name as an expression of a woman exerting wisdom.

Unit 2: God Speaks Through God’s Son

Michael Ruffin with contributions by Toya Richards

Using the New Testament book of Hebrews as the foundation, this unit focuses on Jesus as God’s primary and supreme revelation of God’s self to humanity. Session 1 teaches that God is revealed through Jesus’ suffering. Session 2 tells us that through Jesus, God reveals God’s standards for judgment. Session 3 reminds us that God is revealed through Jesus’ obedient submission to God’s way for him. Finally, session 4 shares that the crucified, resurrected, and ascended Jesus reveals God’s way of salvation. The unit envelopes us with the knowledge that Jesus is the great high priest called specifically by God for his task. Together, these lessons remind us that we have the opportunity to hear directly and clearly from God through Jesus—if we are listening.

Unit 3: Dialogues

J. Dwayne Howell

Dialogue in Scripture is used to help us better understand the characters and to emphasize important themes. This unit focuses on four biblical dialogues. Session 1 introduces us to Naomi and Ruth and focuses our attention on their conversation in which Ruth refuses to return to her people and pledges to go to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. Session 2 continues Ruth’s story as Naomi instructs Ruth on how to approach Boaz for marriage, and Ruth and Boaz’s subsequent conversation to secure her future. Session 3 is about Hannah, who enters into a dialogue with Eli, the priest of Shiloh, about her desire to have a child. In session 4, we will study the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus. Their conversation leads to Jesus’ saying that the kingdom of God is not of this world, but that those who know the truth follow his words. In a warning to us all, we see Pilate then ask “What is truth?” but not remain to hear Jesus’ answer.

Unit 4: Advent Word Pairs

Ronnie Prevost

We long for the final and complete peace and safety that we will experience when Jesus returns. While we wait, we live as God’s people. What does it mean for us to do this? Each session in this Advent unit highlights a word pair found in Scripture and explores the links—some in tension, some complimentary—between each pair, as well as how that word pair informs our efforts to live as God’s people. The word pairs include: Ready and Alert, Complete and Blameless, Repentance and Expectation, and Anticipation and Realization. We will consider how we are becoming who we should be while we await the day when we will be all we should be.

January–April 2022

Unit 1: God Isn’t Finished with Us Yet

Lori Walke

This unit begins in the book of Jeremiah, where we learn what a scattered faithful community can do with even the smallest sliver of hope. Then we will spend two weeks with the book of Isaiah, where we find assurance that God delivers God’s people from what holds them captive and that we can trust that the best is yet to come. We will then turn to the book of Nehemiah, where we are reminded of the timeless truths in Scripture that can help us live in truth. Finally, we will return to Jeremiah to connect the call of the prophet with God’s call on our own lives. God is still gathering us, delivering us, working on us, challenging us, and calling us to be part of the ever-unfolding journey of bringing us closer to the reality that God has in store for God’s people.

Unit 2: Growing in Discipleship

Nathaniel Hill

This unit will explore how followers of Jesus grow in discipleship. Throughout the four sessions, Jesus’ words and actions will teach us what it means to follow him. Jesus sets out in this ministry alone, but he soon gathers disciples. The first disciples start off on the right foot as they leave everything to follow Jesus, but they have much to learn. By the unit’s end, they will stumble badly. In the end, it will not be their strength but rather Jesus’ commitment to them and to his ministry that keeps his mission and his disciples on track. Through everything, paying attention to Jesus is what guides growth in discipleship.

Unit 3: Lenten Actions

Keith Durso

We are all familiar with the three “R’s” of learning: reading, writing, and ’rithmetic. In these four lessons, we will learn the four “R’s” of Lent: Response, Recognition, Repentance, and Return. We will study Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, recognize that Jesus is our Savior, hear Jesus exhort people to use their common sense to interpret the special times in which they live, and finally visit Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. Studying and applying these four “R’s” can go a long way toward helping us develop better relationships with God and with people.

Unit 4: Easter Goals

Ed Sunday-Winters

In this unit, we will examine four passages that offer a foundational framework for daily Christian living. In Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, we will read of the value he places on knowing Christ so that we develop a Christlike way of looking at life, our world, and our fellow human beings. In Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, we will see that because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, it is possible for us to consider ourselves “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” In the book of Acts, Luke will show us what it looks like when God’s saving actions through Jesus Christ flow into our daily living. As pursuers of the Christian life, we can experience all of life’s moments through our connection with and understanding of Jesus Christ.