Connections Summary

September–December 2017

Unit 1: Praise the Lord

Michael L. Ruffin
This four-lesson unit looks to the Psalms and the New Testament to glean lessons about how we can more fully praise God. As the Psalmist remembers God’s work to deliver Israel, participants can consider how the faith of those who came before them might be sources of praise. And as learners look to the teachings of Paul and Jesus, they will be guided to ask how Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection might frame their hope in, thankfulness for, and responses to God’s provision.

Unit 2: Life in Christ

Mark King
Paul wrote letters to Christians in Philippi and Thessalonica to encourage them in their faith. This unit invites Connections users to consider how these ancient words might guide Christians today. In these readings, Paul calls those ancient churches to share in Christ’s humble mind, to trust in Christ’s simple power, and to support each other in community. By engaging with these important teachings, teachers and learners alike can be both challenged and encouraged as they seek to faithfully follow Christ.

Unit 3: God’s Perpetual Power

Heather Dempster
This unit begins with Joshua on the shores of the Jordan as he and his fellow Israelites prepare to cross into Canaan. Following the stories of those early Israelites, participants will have the chance to see God’s power in stopped water, in renewed covenants, and in empowered leaders. As Christians celebrate Reign of Christ Sunday in the unit’s final lesson, learners and teachers will look to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians to explore our hope in God’s power to redeem the world.

Unit 4: Ready for Jesus

Tripp Martin
In a season known for stress, this five-lesson unit invites participants to prepare for Christmas in a different way. Four Advent lessons invite teachers and learners to pay attention to John calling the people in the wilderness to repent and testify. As the season turns toward Christmas, the final Advent lesson examines Mary’s choice to bear Christ, asking how we might also participate in Christ’s coming. In the days following Jesus’ birth, we will continue to celebrate Christmas by looking to the testimonies of Simeon and Anna. In this time of preparation and celebration, Connections users will ask how they can participate in the life that has come and continues to come into the world.

January–April 2018

Unit 1: The Word of the Lord

Aimee Yeager
Beginning with God’s words that bring earth into being, this four-lesson unit examines places where God speaks in the Old Testament. Learners will hear God’s call to Samuel, Jonah, and people of Ninevah, and will see how these servants respond. Finally, they will look to Deuteronomy to hear, not only God’s promise of prophets who will speak for God, but also a warning for those who falsely claim this role. By examining moments when God speaks in the Bible, learners can ask how God speaks to us today and can explore how they might respond.

Unit 2: Proclaim the Good News

John E. Manzo
Like Jesus’ disciples commissioned in Matthew 28 to share the gospel, we too are called to share a message of good news with all those we encounter. This unit encourages participants to ask four questions—why, who, what, and how—about what it means to proclaim Christ’s gospel. As learners explore these questions they will look to Paul’s letters to the Corinthians as well as the Gospel of Mark to understand how they might share Jesus’ messages of repentance and resurrection in both their words and their lives.

Unit 3: Growing in Faith

Alan Redditt
For the last four Sundays of Lent, participants will follow Jesus’ lead in John as he drives animals and moneychangers out of the temple, tells Nicodemus about gift of life that comes with the kingdom of God, teaches his disciples about the meaning of his identity as the Messiah, and humbly enters into Jerusalem to claim this role. All along the way, learners will see the different responses people had to Jesus’ faith. And they will also be invited, themselves, to ask how they might more faithfully respond to Christ’s example.

Unit 4: Easter’s Afterglow

Bruce Gentry
This unit begins on Easter Sunday and, over the next four lessons, examines ways the community of believers in Acts respond to Christ’s resurrection. Bookended by Peter’s meal with Cornelius and Philip’s message to the Ethiopian, participants are invited to see how Christ’s resurrection prompted the church to extend the message of Christ beyond their own particular community. Between these lessons, learners will see how the first churches shared generously with each other and extended healing in both work and speech. During this season of celebrating Christ’s resurrection, their example invites participants to ask how the resurrection shapes their own lives in community.