Sunday, May 3
Eric says we never read the Bible alone. Even if we are sitting alone “sheltering in place”, we still approach and interpret scripture with other voices in our head – voices that reflect our faith community, the religious views that our parents and childhood church held, our race, gender, education, political views, what’s being said on Fox News or in the NY Times, and any number of other things.
– Where do you think your particularity and viewpoints are a strength when you interpret scripture?
– Where are your particularity and viewpoints limited, and where is you viewpoint a weakness?
– What are the benefits of hearing the gospel from a lot of different viewpoints?
Read Chapter 1 of Philippians. (Click for online Bible)
Read Vs 27 – We often limit our notion of “gospel” to a particular spoken message of individual salvation from sin. But Eric, Brennan, and Chris note that Paul’s view of “gospel” is bigger, and needs to be shared in bigger, broader, and more communal ways. The word gospel, or “evangelion” in Greek, means “Good News” and seems to encompass personal salvation but also the redemption of the whole creation. Other words come to mind such as healing, restoration, new life, peace, and Jesus’ view of justice in regards to the poor, sick, hungry, and outcasts. Where do you think our church shares a message of “good news” in Christ in those many ways?
Read Vs 9 – Brennan, Eric, and Chris remind us that for Paul, love must be the starting point for our discernment and our priorities. How do you think your priorities have changed during this pandemic? How do we sometimes approach decisions and priorities in ways that don’t seem to factor in love or concern for others?
Read Vs 15 – Paul refers to people “proclaiming Christ”, but in a self-serving and harmful way. Eric says that there are differences in our understandings of Christianity and how to live it out. Many of those differences don’t matter, but there are some actions and groups that are clearly mean-spirited and hurtful. Eric mentions Westboro Baptist who is openly racist, and we may think of others whose main focus seems to be on vocal, public, and systemic opposition to the LGBTQ community. You may think of particular people in the church who have an idea of how something should be done, but are quite willing to engage in heated conflict to get their way. If, like in Vs 9, we keep love as the starting point for our discernment and priorities, how do you think that changes our approach to deciding what is important, and how we go about living out the ways of Jesus?
We are using a Bible study called “Office Hours”, co-taught by Brennan Breed at Columbia Theological Seminary and Chris Holmes at First Presbyterian Atlanta. The four week study will discuss Paul’s letter to the Philippians.