Mediator of the New Covenant: Hebrews 12:14-15, 18-29
Teaching Strategy: Explore current examples that point to humankind’s lack of holiness. Invite participants to share personal experiences – times when they felt awe and fear in encounters with God and times when they felt the saving grace of Christ drawing them close to God.
The scripture lesson describes human encounters with God as terrifying because of God’s pure holiness and awesome power. God is “a consuming fire” (v. 28) that purifies the sin of an unholy people. Yet believers experience God’s grace and forgiveness and are able to draw near to God through Christ who is the mediator of a new covenant.
In what ways does gathering for worship help believers to enter into the presence of our holy, loving God? How is the experience of worship affected by contemporary culture and current events?
- Churches Look to Tighten Security, Even Arm Congregants, After Texas Shooting; Texas Church Is Transformed Into Poignant Memorial For Mass Shooting Victims
- Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church; A Deeper Debate over Drums in Church: Native Christians Still Wrestle with How Their Culture Fits Into Their Churches
- Mulling over Soli Gloria Dei on the Reformation’s Anniversary
- Sermon Worship Service for Climate Justice 12 November 2017, Bonn, Germany
Fall 2017 Theme: Covenant
Unifying Principle: Humans desire to experience a power greater than themselves, but do not always realize that drawing near to such needed power can be an awesome prospect. How can people approach such a power without being consumed? The psalmist affirms that God allows humans to approach the Divine; the writer of Hebrews proclaims that Jesus provides the means of boldly approaching the presence of God.
Promise of a New Covenant: Jeremiah 31:27-34
Teaching Strategy: Discuss what motivates and guides participants in living in right relationship with God and others. What roles do external laws/expectations play compared and contrasted with what God has written on their hearts? Encourage participants to reflect on the ways their lives have been changed because God’s law is written on their hearts.
There are numerous conflicts today in which reliance upon written laws stands in contrast to expectations that people will do the “right thing” without rules and regulations. Examples include the ownership and responsible use of guns; discrimination against other based upon religion, race, or sexual orientation; and care for the environment. The debate about stronger gun control or anti-discrimination laws, for example, is often quite heated. How might scripture inform Christians’ response to this controversy? How can God work through Christians to inspire people to live as God intends – whatever the civil law requires (or does not require)?
- Change Our Violent Culture; The Gospel for Gun-Loving Christians
- U.S. Department Says Anti-Bias Law Does Not Protect Gay Workers; Discrimination Against Muslims is Increasing in U.S., Pew Study Finds
Concern about gun violence increased again on Monday, November 6, when 26 people were killed in a Baptist church in Texas. There are no easy solutions, but there can be no doubt that the U.S. must find a way to reduce gun violence and eliminate mass shootings wherever they are occurring. The question is more urgent than ever: How can God work through Christians to inspire people to live as God intends – whatever the civil law requires (or does not require)?
- Texas Shooting Kills 26 at Southern Baptist Church; We Grieve With Sutherland Springs, Call for Sensible Gun Measures;