Connections Summary

May–August 2019

Unit 1: The Apocalypse as Good News

Katie and Bill Treadway

This unit begins where April’s ends—the book of Revelation. While many connect John’s apocalypse to doom and gloom, these four lessons invite Connectionsusers to consider the good news in John’s vision. To do so, the first two lessons point to the slaughtered and resurrected lamb as a source of Christian hope, while the next two lessons direct participants’ attention to “the new Jerusalem” as the fulfillment of this hope. Ultimately, exploring John’s vision challenges learners to imagine how they might carry good news amid settings marked by suffering.

Unit 2: Life with God

David Priddy

This five-lesson unit draws from several scriptural sources to depict how relationship with God can shape everyday life. In observance of Pentecost, the first two lessons draw from Acts 2 and explore the Holy Spirit’s role in remembering and sharing God’s promises. A lesson from Psalm 8 centers the unit, inviting participants to share in the psalmist’s awe at God’s power. Finally, lessons four and five turn to Galatians and encourage learners to imagine how life with God informs their relationship to community.

Unit 3: Prophetic Reminders

Melissa Graham Meeks

The Bible’s prophets proclaimed a vision for Israel’s religious, economic, and political lives: at the center was God. In this four-lesson unit, Connectionsusers explore how their prophetic perspective—from 2 Kings, Amos, and Hosea—might inform contemporary life. In doing so, the prophets challenge modern participants to see how priorities that prevent humanity from experiencing a more compassionate, merciful, and just society might be transformed into priorities that come from God.

Unit 4: Letting Go, Moving On

Camilla Hempstead

This final unit leads learners to the gospel of Luke, where they may encounter changes necessary for following Jesus. As participants walk along with the disciples in Luke 12 and 13, they hear Jesus call his followers from materialism to devotion, from indifference to readiness, from inattention to awareness, and from callousness to compassion. Exploring the disciples’ first-century examples invites Connections users to consider how they might grow in their own lives.

September–December 2019

Unit 1—Painful Grace: Jeremiah Reveals God’s Heart

Michael L. Ruffin with Robert Shippey

In these five lessons, Connections users read Jeremiah as a lens to see God’s grace. This “weeping prophet” announces tensions in Israel’s covenant with God. But while Jeremiah proclaims God’s judgment of Israel, he also hints at God’s graceful character. As participants wrestle with the pain of this stage in Israel’s history, they are invited to explore how calls to repentance, descriptions of divine grief, and announcements of hope might serve as sources of grace in their own lives.

Unit 2—For the Living of These Days: Some Things We Need

Austin Crenshaw Shelley

This unit explores Jesus’ ministry in Luke 17–18. These chapters include healing stories, teachings, and parables, and four lessons explore how following Jesus might shape daily life. Participants have the opportunity to imagine the great power that comes from even small faith. They explore how gratitude, humility, and prayer inform people’s relationships to healing and the needs of the vulnerable. By remembering the first followers of Jesus, these lessons help Connections users follow Jesus in their lives today.

Unit 3—Spiritual Motivation: Embrace What God Is Doing

Alix Davidson

Moving from Luke to the Pauline epistles, this unit guides participants to hear Paul’s advice to early churches as advice for their own congregations. Three passages from 2 Thessalonians invite readers to explore the importance of prayer for knowing God’s will, following it, and encouraging others in it. The fourth lesson draws from the Christological hymn in Colossians to help readers observe the Reign of Christ Sunday and the end of the liturgical year. As Christians seek to follow God’s will, Paul reaffirms the great hope that God reconciles all things through Christ.

Unit 4—Advent and Christmas Goals: Because Jesus Comes

Anna Hall

As Advent begins, this five-lesson unit draws from Matthew to help Connections users prepare for and celebrate Christ’s coming. Lessons draw from Jesus’ and John’s teachings about the coming of God, as well as the nativity stories that precede and celebrate Jesus’ first coming. By honoring the space between Jesus’ historical appearance and the hoped-for second coming, participants are challenged in the Advent and Christmas seasons to pay attention to God’s presence without becoming trapped in certainty.