Connections Summary

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.

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.