Archives for posts with tag: the Bible

Chapter 3 -- cover pic

Last Sunday we followed the twisting story of Joseph, from dreams, to being sold into slavery, to becoming the Vice Pharaoh of Egypt to, at last, coming face to face with his brothers when they came begging for food in the midst of famine.

It took getting through to Genesis 45 before we saw that the story wasn’t what we thought it was.  It wasn’t about Joseph.  Or his brothers.  Or their betrayal.

It was about God.   The nature of God.   And how God chose to work through this fledgling people of Israel to reveal God’s self to the world.

A key question that we began (and only began) to engage was how do we understand the will of God?  The Joseph story was turned on its head when Joseph tells his brothers, “So it was not you who sent me here [Egypt], but God” (Gen. 45:8).    And then the verse that has been the catalyst for how many understand God, and God’s relation to evil:  “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.”

This verse, for many, has “solved” the problem of God and evil.  God doesn’t cause evil or use evil on purpose — God just turns the evil that happens to good.   The cross, of course, is the ultimate example of this.

And yet.

As we probe further into God’s word, we will find occasions where it appears as though God uses violence to further God’s ends.  This Sunday, we will encounter in Chapter 4 of The Story the many occasions when God hardens Pharaoh’s heart.   And the trail from Egypt to the Promised Land will feature many acts of conquest, often brutal, in God’s name.   How do we square this with the Prince of Peace and God’s act of self-sacrifice on calvary?  Just a few questions as we continue this walk of faith together through our study of God’s story.

 

 

Chapter 2

The Story now turns to the story of how God chooses a people and builds a nation.   It’s a most curious — okay let’s just say it — it’s a downright bizarre choice!  An elderly man and a barren woman, who’s also advanced in age, are supposed to be the beginning of a new nation.   And yet that’s what comes to pass.   This story in Chapter 2 will arc across four generations, from Abraham and Sarah; to Isaac and Rebekah; to Jacob and Rachel/Leah;  to Joseph.   It’s a stunning narrative with plot twists and cliff hangers.   And it’s a profound statement of what God is about.

I invite you to share in the comment space any questions or comments that you have from your readings or from our time in class on Sunday!

Welcome to my blog on The Story!

As we go through this experience of reading through the Bible as a congregation and Scripture 6exploring issues in our Sunday School classes and worship, I want to offer this as a forum for further discussion.  Today, we launched The Story and focused on Chapter 1 — Creation.  Did you have questions or comments as you read Chapter 1?  Was there something raised in this morning’s Sunday School class or in worship for Chapter 1 that surprised you, puzzled you, tickled you, challenged you?   Share those thoughts in the comment space below!

Peace and grace,

Pastor Pat

Prayerimages (5)

Dear Lord,

We give thanks to you for beginnings.  So often, we may think that a door is closed, that a dream is lost, that there’s no way out of a particular situation.  Or we may just be tired and feel as though we don’t have the energy or ability to set out on a new venture.  But you, Lord, are our creator.  And we are never done in your hands.  As we peek ahead to this Sunday and the launch of our 31-week program with The Story, we pray that we would be open to you doing a new thing in our lives and in our congregation.  Fill us with expectation, hope, curiosity and devotion as we approach you in this new endeavor!  Amen.

 Scriptures

 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.   — Genesis 1:1-5

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?   — Isaiah 43:19

Prayerdownload

Dear Lord

We pray that as we participate in The Story at BRPC, that we will develop spiritual habits that will nurture our lives and faith well beyond the 31 weeks that are before us.  Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.   Amen.

Scripture

 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” —  Romans 12:2

 

Prayerimages

Dear Lord,

We pray that as we enter into this time of study of your word through The Story, that you would lift us up through your scriptures as a people of hope.  If we feel tired in life, let us be restored through your chapters.  If we hunger, feed us verse by verse.  If fear grips us, allow the words of the patriarchs and matriarchs, prophets and poets, Savior and disciples to comfort, steady us and affix in us renewed purpose with new found resolve.  Amen.

Scripture

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.   — Romans 15:4

Prayerimages (10)

Dear Lord

We pray that our upcoming study of The Story in Sunday School and in worship will draw us together as a congregation.  May the experience of reading and discussing and praying over the same passages strengthen the bonds we share in the body of Christ.  Amen.

Scripture

“ I have given them [believers] the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:  I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”    —  John 17:22-23

Prayerdownload

Dear Lord,

Thank you for Sabbath rest;  I took mine yesterday!  May we each find a time of renewal each Sunday.
Amen

Scripture

 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.   Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

— Exodus  20:8-10

Prayerheart hands (2)

Dear Lord,

We pray that as we immerse ourselves in the reading, discussing, praying and proclaiming of your story, that we will grow in our love for you – with all our hearts, souls, and minds.  Amen

Scripture

”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.”  — Matthew 22:37

Prayerimages

Dear Lord,

In a week in which two dear people from our church, Ruth and Larry,  entered the Church Triumphant, we give thanks for their gifts to our faith community and for all who have preceded them in service to Christ at Blue Ridge Presbyterian.  Where would our faith be without those who teach, encourage, share a loving word, and otherwise help build up the body of Christ in our midst?  Help us Lord to be grateful for them, to be strengthened by their witness, and to not take those around us for granted.   Amen.

Scripture

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.   — Hebrews 12:1