Tuesday, March 10, 2020
1. The Trinity shows us that creation and redemption cannot be pulled apart so easily. The Son who redeems and the Father who creates are one God, and each works as the other works. This opens space for us not only to see in a divine light what scientists see as they pass on wisdom about the cosmos. It also allows us to see Christ resplendent throughout his creation. Every act of sacrifice, every ounce of beauty, even the sheer, seemingly ordinary act of being there, is a reflection of the God who makes all things and redeems them in Christ. Here Christians stand to learn as much from poets as from scientists.
- What are the challenges to seeing “Christ resplendent throughout his creation?”
- How might poets guide us into such wisdom and insight?
2. The Trinity says God is one of us, the least of us, to save us. The place to look for God is not in philosophical proofs or through a great big telescope. It is in the flesh of one Jesus of Nazareth. The Trinity says that how we think of “God” and the identity of this one Jew can never be pulled apart from one another.
- What is the value to you of Jesus being fully human?
- What is the value to you of Jesus being fully God?
3. Gandhi said if you want to know who the real Christians are, ask the poor. Have we given the poor the pride of place that Jesus commands? I sometimes wonder if we grouse about the absence of evidence for God precisely because God has so deeply identified with people we don’t want anything to do with—the lesser neighbor, the poor, the one who annoys us the most. Jesus’s identity and the church, and the poor, are one.
- How does this speak to our individual/societal norms and attitudes?
4. There is no salvation that is not corporate, that does not include Christ in his people, his poor, the ones you don’t like, the ones who most don’t like you. This is why discipleship is a difficult and rigorous way. It includes a cross. It is also why discipleship is worth it. It is the way Jesus walked before us and walks with us, and the way he is using us to make all things new. God is ecstatic, going outside himself. He commands us to do the same. And as hard as that way is, it is profoundly good.
- Salvation that is utterly inclusive includes “discipleship is a difficult and rigorous way.” Why is the bearing of the cross necessary?
5. And these three we’ve described in this little conclusion—the one who creates, the one who redeems, the one who reconciles, these three are one. Their love for one another is unfathomable. It creates worlds, calls the Jews, redeems in Christ, and draws all people back to God. Our task in life is to become part of this company of fathomless mutual care. And to invite all others to as well. That’ll do for a lifetime, won’t it?
- In what ways have you become “part of this company of fathomless mutual care” over your lifetime?
- How has your involvement shaped your faith and your life?
6. What opportunities for growth has our Panera Study Group offered you over the years?
7. Is there interest in the continuation of this group with new leadership next fall?
8. What else might we talk about today during our final session with Pastor Mark?
Monday, February 24, 2020
The Triune God We Don’t Know
1. Why is it important to say God is simple – that whatever is God is altogether God?
2. What can Darwinism teach trinitarians?
- Where do the two stories fundamentally fail to reconcile?
3. Why is it that the Trinity can best be glimpsed not by the genius but by the saint?
4. What do you think of these glimpses of the Trinity in creation?
- Are they believable?
- Why are they important?
5. Who is someone holy in whom you have glimpsed the holy and blessed Trinity?
Monday, February 17, 2020
The Spirit We Don’t Know
1. I had this exchange with a former Pentecostal who was coming to join our church. She said, “I’m sick of the Holy Spirit.” I responded, “Oh good, we’re mainline Methodists, we rarely speak of the Spirit at all!”
- Which has been more like your experience?
- Which experience do you envy?
2. “When you see love, you see a Trinity,” Augustine said.
- How does that match your experience?
- Is it a sufficient role for the Spirit to be the love between the Father and the Son?
3. Should we name the Spirit “she”?
- Why or why not?
4. What strengths or dangers are there in describing the Spirit as the “shy” person of the Trinity?
5. What is the filioque and why does it matter (if it does at all)?
6. How can we tell if an impressive “sign” is the work of the Holy Spirit or of some other spirit?
- Does the miraculous help us clarify which is which or not?
7. Does the Spirit work beyond the bounds of the church or of those who know Jesus?
- If so, how?
Monday, February 10, 2020
The Son We Don’t Know
1. How does Jesus drive our wondering about the Trinity?
2. Scriptural thought about Jesus gravitates between two adages:
(1) what is not divine cannot save, and
(2) what Jesus has not assumed, he has not healed.
Where do these come from biblically?
How could they guide our thought and speech about God?
3. How does our worship tell us the truth about God?
Or is it merely a consumer preference?
Why would ancient Christians think otherwise?
4. How might heresy be helpful to determining what Christians
How does the long arc of church history show God’s patience with
5. When, if ever, is a little extremism a good thing?
6. Why must all language, however “correct,” be scrubbed free of
7. St. Hilary said that although God is one, God “is not solitary.”
How does that change our view of God?
8. Why is it important that God is not male (or female)?
How could our language for God reflect God’s superiority to human
categories like gender?
Monday, January 27, 2020
The God We Don’t Talk About
1. What are the worst analogies for the Trinity you have heard?
- What are the best?
2. How can we speak of a God who is beyond our words?
3. When has God felt unbearably distant to you?
- Unbearably close?
4. How can these claims hold together: “If you understand it, it is not God,” and “the answer is always Jesus”?
- Can these both be true?
Monday, January 20, 2020
Creation and Hope
1.What does it mean to be your parents’ child?
2. What advantages and disadvantages did you receive by virtue of them being your parents?
3. How are you like and unlike your parents?
4. How are your children like and unlike you?
5. What is the difference between being God’s child and God’s servant?
6. What are our responsibilities as God’s children to God?
7. Who is the apple of your eye?
8. What does it mean to you that you are the apple of God’s eye?
9. What gives you joy? How do you share it?
10. As God’s people, we are children of the light. What does that play out in your everyday life?
Monday, January 13, 2020
God’s Absence from Creation
1. What does it mean that God rests?
2. Do you get adequate rest, vacation time, time off from your responsibilities?
3. How could you help give someone else the opportunity to find peace and rest?
4. If creation is an expression of God’s love as a parent, what signs of love do you see in creation?
5. Giving children supervision is a parent’s responsibility, but how much is too much or too little?
6. Do you do better when you are closely supervised or when you are not?
7. Who is supervising you?
8. What makes for a good supervisor?
9. When God is perceived as absent, we in the church must step forward. What are ways that your church can be God’s hands and feet in the world and your neighborhood?
10. How do you teach a child to be obedient?
11. What does it mean to be “[freed] for joyful obedience?”
(see 1 John 5)