Reconciling the world
A Lent Study Course
Tuesdays, 27th February - March 26th, 19:00 Start
In person and on Zoom
If coming in person to Union Chapel, please ring the buzzer at the black gate. There may be gigs on in the main chapel simultaneous to the Bible study. If so, please do not be put off by the queue or church entrance and come to the black gate.
Lent 2024 takes place in the shadow of events in Israel/Palestine and a global situation threatening to extend into a wider conflict engulfing many peoples. It is hard to know where we fit into this as Christians. Sometimes the church is an important influence for peace and all too often it is embroiled in conflict as protagonist rather than reconciler.
In this series, we explore the Gospel message of reconciliation in the context of our time. What difference does our faith in Jesus make to our choices of solidarity actions? How can we make sense of our dangerous world through struggling with the Bible texts?
February 20th - Jesus the reconciler
We will begin our series with St Paul who made reconciliation to God through Christ a central tenet of his writings. It is this reconciliation which is the prerequisite for breaking down the ‘dividing walls of hostility’ and bringing genuine peace to those who are near and those who are far off.
We will read some of Paul’s writings and ask what difference does it make to believe that Christ is reconciling the world when opening ourselves to engaging with the hard realities of contemporary life.
February 27th - Repentance
In this session, we will explore how the prophet Jeremiah grappled with the complexities of repentance as he and his people were caught up in very dramatic political events.
March 5th - Christian Zionism, the Bible and Israel/Palestine
Rev. Dr. Nathan Eddy Co-CEO of the Council of Christians and Jews will address some of the tough questions arising from the current situation in Israel/Palestine.
Many Christians support the concept of Israel as a Jewish homeland. Their position is rooted in scripture and as an atonement for the century’s long persecution of Jews by Christians, culminating in the Holocaust. However, recent events are particularly challenging for progressive Christians.
We will explore these puzzling questions with a desire to stand in genuine and productive solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine.
March 12th - The practice of forgiveness
Forgiveness is fundamental to the Christian ethic. It is at the heart of Jesus’ own prayer – ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’. The words of forgiveness from the cross are deeply moving and serve as the example for all believers.
We know from experience that it is not so straightforward. It runs counter to our instincts as human beings. Yet without it, the world is condemned to perpetual cycles of violence.
What is the forgiveness that is needed from us as Christians – how can we practice it honestly. How can nations and peoples learn to break the cycle of violence.
March 19th - Scapegoating and atonement
We will take an excursion into the world of the Temple in Jerusalem and see how the Temple rituals helped the people maintain equilibrium in their communities. The rich symbolism of the Temple then informs the Gospel writers presentation of the meaning of the life of Jesus.
We live in a world in which too many are sacrificed on the altars of colonialism, capitalism, and discriminations. Christians too are called to a sacrificial life. In exploring scripture we will ask what are the implications for us.
March 26th - Embracing Grace – costly and cheap
Our final session takes place in Holy Week when we remember that Christ gave his life as a ransom for many. We will read the texts which tell of how Jesus interpreted his own death.
Drawing on the rich thinking of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we seek to understand the cost of faith and the many ways in which Christians avoid the cost of discipleship. How much of contemporary church life and the Christianity promulgated on the internet is cheap grace? With whom and where are the people and places which require our solidarity as individuals and as a church.