Connections Summary

January–April 2021

Unit 1: Unveilings

Elaine Sveet

In this unit, beautiful and challenging passages from the Gospels of Mark and John will bring us into this new year. The first session will unveil how Jesus reveals God. Images of Word and light in these poetic verses display the mystery of “God with us.” In our second session, the baptism of Jesus unveils how God reveals Jesus and affirms his identity. Our third session will unveil how Jesus reveals himself to people seeking to know God. Our fourth session will unveil a mission that Jesus gave to his followers. Finally, the fifth sesson will unveil Jesus’ authority through his teachings and healings. Through these weeks of unveilings, we will gain tools to help us develop a deeper understanding of Christ and our Christian purpose.

Unit 2: What Is and What Will Be

Courtney Stamey

This unit’s lessons call us to be grounded in the past and to look toward the future as we consider what is and what will be. In each Scripture passage over the next four weeks, we will explore an event in the past that calls us to anticipate something in the future: strength, ministry, covenant, or blessings. As we examine these past events, we will learn about difficult experiences such as exile, a mentor’s passing, natural disaster, and infertility. But such things also happen here and now. We probably know people who struggle with such issues; we may struggle with some of them ourselves. As was the case with the heroes of our faith, we are called to look toward the horizon to see where God is calling us next.

Unit 3: The Means of Salvation

Eric Thiele

How people attain salvation has been a topic of discussion in the church since its beginning. The means of salvation was a centerpiece of the Protestant Reformation sparked by Martin Luther in the sixteenth century. It is still a frequent topic of lectures, sermons, and articles. This unit of lessons points us beyond what we need to do and back to what God does. First, we will examine Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians about the foolishness of the cross. Second, we will examine God’s love that is revealed to us through the gift of grace. Third, we will explore the role of Jesus as the great High Priest. Finally, we will journey back to Palm Sunday, watching Jesus approach Jerusalem as the humble King. God saves us through Jesus’ humility.

Unit 4: In the World Today

David Priddy

In this unit, we will study what it means to belong to the holy fellowship created by the resurrected Christ. What does it mean for us to be God’s people in the world today? How do we live in light of Jesus’ resurrection? First in the Gospel of John, then in John’s first letter, we will explore Jesus as the Son of God in the flesh. Then, we will analyze how God’s Son Jesus came to overturn lawlessness and overthrow the works of the evil one, revealing the Father’s will. Finally, we will explore Jesus’ radical self-giving as the foundation and model for Christian love. Christlike love has to be put into action. In a world that lives under the shadow of sin, the light of Jesus’ resurrection continues to shine through biblical books such as John’s Gospel and 1 John.

May–August 2021

Unit 1: Necessary Knowledge

Sarah Reddish

Many times, the facts we learn about life with Christ are reassuring because they help us know that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. The first three lessons in this unit focus on passages from 1 John, a book that comes from an early group of Christians that scholars call the Johannine community. The lessons for weeks four and five come from the book of Romans, a letter written by Paul to the church in the capital of the first-century Roman empire. This unit asks us to face some of our faith’s hardest questions. Questions of faith usually don’t have easy answers, but the knowledge can reassure us in difficult times and help us remember that God calls us to act on our love.

Unit 2: Following Jesus

Kelly Moreland Jones

This unit is designed to be a road map for following Jesus, and is based on familiar stories from the book of Mark, the first of the Gospels to be written down. Session one will call us to consider what makes us members of God’s family. In session two, Mark 4:21-34 will challenge us to listen closely to what Jesus teaches. Session three will call us to ask questions of and about Jesus. Finally, in session four, Mark 5:21-43 will invite us to place our trust in Christ. Together we will learn that following Jesus involves doing God’s will, hearing Jesus’ teaching, having questions, and trusting Jesus.

Unit 3: A Sense of Place

Aimee Yeager

We will begin this discussion of serving in various environments with the story of Jesus returning home to Nazareth to preach in the synagogue. While there are comforts at home, there are also hurdles to overcome. In week two, we will focus on the John the Baptizer’s final days, examining risky and challenging places. In week three, Jesus invites the disciples, who have been busy ministering, to rest and recharge even when the crowds still call for help. Finally, the disciples will face a lack of resources and we will see what God can do with our faith and that gap. With God’s help, we will prepare to serve Christ in whatever place we find ourselves.

Unit 4: Real World Faithfulness

Camilla Hempstead

We have opportunities to follow Christ today that won’t come back tomorrow. Each day, we make decisions that move us either closer to God or farther away from God. This unit’s lessons teach us that we must practice faithfulness to God every day. We are constantly making important choices and decisions. Sometimes we’ll make good ones and sometimes we won’t. The people we will study this month, including King David and two of his sons, will help us reflect on our own decisions by examining theirs. As we journey together with these real-life people, we will learn about our own real world faithfulness.