Connections 02.25.2024: Hoping against Hope

Just as pastors and Bible teachers do today, Paul used stories from the past to explain faith and salvation to the early Roman believers.

Connections 02.18.2024: Adjusting Expectations

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t tend to read the New Testament epistles as sources of wonder. The Old Testament, yes!

Connections 02.11.2024: What’s the Big Secret?

On the Sunday before Lent—the season when, with Jesus, we will turn our attention to the coming crucifixion and resurrection—we pause with the disciples and pay attention.

Connections 02.04.2024: True Healing

The issue of healing may be one of the biggest hindrances to faith. I know it’s been a struggle for me over the years.

Connections 01.28.2024: Stumbling Blocks and Building Blocks

Sometimes I forget how unusual churches are. We have people of all ages and abilities.

Connections 01.21.2024: The Time is Short

This holiday season was a first in my family: this is my older son’s first year at college, so this was the first Christmas when we’ve had a child come home for a little while and then go away again.

Connections 01.14.2024: The Magnificence of Humanity

Wherever you happen to go—church, the store, a neighborhood walk, or even just your home—notice other people.

Connections 01.07.2024: What Have You Heard?

When I was in high school it was normal for churches to send teams out “on visitation”—dropping in unannounced on new folks.

Connections 12.31.2023: Not “The End”

The post-Christmas letdown can be a relief or a disappointment—or both.

Connections 12.24.2023: The Light of Christ

On Christmas Eve, many churches hold candlelight services to help people claim the promise of the Christ child amid the busy holiday rush.

Connections 12.17.2023: A Blessing from the Lord

Recently our teenaged son experienced a rite of passage: we introduced him to one of our generation’s cultural icons, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Connections 12.10.2023: Who Needs Good News?

Advent catches me off-guard every year with the reminder that God may be “in his heaven” but all is not, in fact, right with the world.

Connections 12.03.2023: Mental Health

I had a phone call with my cousin and lifelong best friend last night. We discussed personal struggles and mental health issues.

Connections 11.26.2023: Grace and Goodness

It’s Thanksgiving week, which means many of us will gather with some of the people we love best in the world, and we’ll eat amazing favorite foods, and we’ll share the things we’re grateful for, and we’ll celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season.

Connections 11.19.2023: Peace and Security

Most of us don’t know very much about the ancient history of the region that many faith groups consider to be holy land.

Connections 11.12.2023: Just Be Nice

Anyone who has been around small children probably speaks a familiar refrain: “Be nice.”

Connections 11.05.2023: Recipe for a Saint

The first Sunday in November is often observed as All Saints’ Day.

Connections 10.29.2023: The Bible and the Newspaper

In 1963, Time magazine published a short article about the retirement of the theologian and professor Karl Barth.

Connections 10.22.2023: What We Owe

My husband and I have decided to buy a used car from a friend for our daughter to use. The friend is offering us a deal we can’t refuse for a vehicle that should last at least a couple of years.

Connections 10.15.2023: “Yes, But” or “Yes, And”

If these parables were a modern movie franchise, volume three (22:1-14) might frustrate fans and critics.

Connections 10.08.2023: Regrets, I Have (More Than) a Few

Yesterday I let my fifteen-year-old son connect his phone to my car’s audio system so we could listen to his playlist on the way to the orthodontist.

Connections 10.01.2023: The Guest List

Verse 31 of our passage, which is the “Verse to Remember” for today’s study, is one of those difficult sayings of Jesus that bewilder us: “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.”

Connections 09.24.2023: What’s Your Problem?

In general, it is not a good idea to base complex theological understandings on snippets and sound bites.

Connections 09.17.2023: All Means All

In literature, including the Bible, repetition of a word or phrase is a way of giving emphasis to an image or an idea.

Connections 09.10.2023: God’s Justice and God’s Love

Today’s lesson text highlights the responsibility of the prophet Ezekiel: he must preach repentance to the people.

Connections 09.03.2023: Up to Good?

Of all the descriptions we might apply to the Bible—holy, inspired, encouraging, uplifting—one we might not usually consider is ironic.

Connections 08.27.2023: Stop, Look, and Listen

As children, many of us learned to “stop, look, and listen” when we crossed the street, to (hopefully) cross safely.

Connections 08.20.2023: Salvation

People from certain Christian traditions may remember sermons and lessons about “being saved,” “asking Jesus into your heart,” or “walking the aisle” to make a public profession of faith before the church.

Connections 08.13.2023: You Are (Still) Here

Elijah is on the run. His life is in danger because he has been faithful to the ways of God and has faithfully proclaimed God’s messages, even though the people have responded violently.

Connections 08.06.2023: Making the Pitch

There’s an old advertising maxim that if you want to sell something, first you show the people that they have a need, then show them how your product or service can meet that need.

Connections 07.30.2023: Jacob and Laban

As we modern readers study Genesis 29, we might be struck by the way Laban uses his daughters, Leah and Rachel, to bait and trap Jacob.

Connections 07.23.2023: Jacob and the Lord

Esau was angry enough to kill Jacob, and when their mother Rebekah heard about that, she told her beloved son to leave home.

Connections 07.16.2023: Changing the Things We Can

The Bible is full of stories of people who grapple with this reality, whether they know it or not. They learn to trust God in times when a situation “is what it is.”

Connections 07.09.2023: Isaac and Rebekah

In today’s lesson text, a servant of Abraham does the patriarch’s bidding. He goes to Abraham’s people to “get a wife” for Isaac, the beloved miracle son (v. 38).

Connections 07.02.2023: Here I Am

About three miles from the White House are the gated, green grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Today it’s a quick car ride to a place that feels a million miles away from the marble monuments and memorials of the National Mall.

Connections 06.25.2023: Good to Know

Those of us who grew up in churches and denominations that were “evangelical”—in the sense of sharing the Good News (from the Greek, euangélion)—can probably rattle off quite a few Bible verses that we learned to lean on as foundations of faith.

Connections 06.18.2023: Bodies and Souls

In our lesson text, we read about Jesus fulfilling his mission of bringing God’s kingdom to earth. How does he do this?

Connections 06.11.2023: You Can Sit with Us

I have very clear memories of lunchtimes on several first days in several new schools, when I would stand at the edge of a crowded, noisy cafeteria, clutching the edges of a plastic tray.

Connections 06.04.2023: The Great Reassurance

Matthew 28:17 seems to me to be one of the most honest descriptions of Jesus’s disciples in the entire Bible. They have followed him from their fishing boats to the upper room.

Connections 05.28.2023: Receive the Holy Spirit

Our lesson title, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” comes from John 20:22, when Jesus breathes on his frightened disciples and blesses them with a new power that will remain even after he is no longer physically present.

Connections 05.21.2023: On Their Behalf

Many of us have probably had the experience of someone praying for us by name, in person, right in front of (or next to) us. Maybe they’re even holding our hands or laying hands on our heads or shoulders.

Connections 05.14.2023: Making a Home

In 22 years as a military family, my family has had a lot of homes. We are old hands at moving in and moving out.

Connections 05.07.2023: “Believe in Me”

Our lesson text encapsulates what, for me, are the two sides of the coin of faith: hope and doubt.

Connections 04.30.2023: Seeking Understanding

Jesus regularly teaches his listeners—whether his devoted followers or his frustrated (and frustrating) detractors—using metaphors.

Connections 04.23.2023: Doing Something

When I was about fifteen years old, the movie Dead Poets Society came out and changed my life—at least, it sure felt like it.

Connections 04.16.2023: The Hope of Christ in Grief

What’s the most powerful sermon you can remember? I remember one in particular. I was still in high school and had slept over at a friend’s house on New Year’s Eve.

Connections 04.09.2023: “Who Are You Looking For?”

If the question of Palm Sunday—“Who is this?”—is a good one, the question of Easter may be a better one.

Connections 04.02.2023: Who Is This?

There are Scriptures we can hear spoken aloud in worship—and sung about in hymns—and acted out in children’s pageants—and taught about in studies and sermons.