Archive | Sunday School RSS for this section

Fall 2013 Preview (we’re PUMPED!)

Hey friends! Can you believe it’s almost fall? We are so eager to have you guys back around. As we’ve been planning for fall there’s a ton of great stuff coming up that we want you guys to know about!

Our purpose in UMIN is to make disciples of Jesus who make disciples for the rest of their lives. The main way we do this is through Discipleship Groups. These groups are made up of a few of your friends, walking through life with a mentor who is a life-phase (or more) ahead of you, who will challenge you to look more like Christ during your time in college. If you’re interested in joining a DGroup, we’ll have two interest meetings when you get back – Sunday, September 15th after Sunday School in the Loft, or Wednesday, September 18th after Worship & Study in the Loft.  Plan to be at one of those meetings to find out more and sign up for this central piece of our ministry! We kick off new groups the week of September 29th.

Speaking of Sunday School and Worship & Study, we’re really eager to walk through Scripture with you guys this fall. Sunday School kicks off August 25th at 11am in the Student Building. Each fall we offer four different classes in Sunday school that you can be a part of for the entire semester, and you don’t want to miss it! In Worship & Study we will be walking through the book of Hebrews, beginning August 28th at 8:30pm. Bring your friends and come worship with us!

Every year we look forward to sharing some free, warm, buttery goodness – this year our Pancake Kickoff will be Tuesday, August 27th from 9pm to midnight. We love to welcome you guys back to school, and what better way than with free pancakes in the Student Building!?

This year we’re planning another great Fall Retreat on October 4th and 5th! We’ll be heading to Camp Hargis – it’s the perfect chance for you guys to get away from the crazy start of school and enjoy time together in community, complete with a campfire, s’mores, worship and Bible study with some great friends to lead us. You’ll hear more from us about how to signup in August, but mark it on your calendars – it’s going to be awesome!

We’re praying for you guys as summer winds down and you start to think about school again. We cannot wait to see how the Lord works in the upcoming semester, and we really can’t wait to see your smiling faces again soon!

Fall Sunday School Preview

We are super excited over here at UMin about our fall Sunday School plan.  Starting August 26, we are returning to our learning environments format where you get to choose which class you want to participate in this semester.  Here are some previews of the four classes we will be offering:

“Freshman 101” with Rachael Milner and Jason Spires

So you’re a freshman, right? You’re about to make a LOT of decisions in college, some good… some bad (hopefully less of these). We want to walk through Scripture and learn what wisdom looks like as a freshman in college. We will talk about friends, dating, serving, church, and everything in between. Join us on Sundays to have fun and fellowship together, to study wise words from the Bible and to avoid gaining the freshman 15. Just kidding on that last part.

“The Journey” with Jason & Aren Williams and Amy & Adam Oliver

For the past year, the whole Shades family has begun a journey through the Biblical story, starting in Genesis and heading toward Revelation.  This semester, we will be taking a romp through the Old Testament prophets.  What was Isaiah talking about?  What was God really doing through folks like Micah and Amos?  What does their word have to say for us now?  This class would be especially good for d-group leaders in preparation for your Sunday night meeting with your youth students.

“Finding God’s Will” with Matt Kerlin and Ryan Colley

What is “God’s will”?  How can I know God’s will?  Who should I date and marry?  What should I major in and what career should I pursue?  And what if we’ve been trained to think about all of these questions in the wrong ways?  Our class will examine these issues in an effort to understand better what it means to live according to “God’s will.”

“Spiritual Disciplines” with the Chuck & Emily Hooten

Sometimes we approach Spiritual disciplines with an attitude of, “I need to do these things, so that God likes me more…” or “I feel bad/guilty, I better do these things to make myself feel better.”  This kind of attitude leads to death.  But together this semester, we want to explore the true richness of life in Christ to be found in Spiritual discipline.  A man once found a treasure in a field, and because of the value of that treasure, he sacrificed everything to obtain it.

Cross Bearing in our Life with God

This summer in Sunday School, we have been “learning from Jesus” together.  So far we have explored what it meant for Him to be Messiah, how the Trinity challenges us to jump into the deep things of God, different ways people respond to Jesus, considered who the Kingdom of God is for, thought about the practice of Christian rest, purposed to find our satisfaction in God/His provision, understood how Jesus confronts blind spots in our lives where we serve the kingdom of Satan rather than the Kingdom of God, been asked to engage in true and deep Christian community, seen how Jesus reimagines life in abundance and scarcity, and thought through how awareness of our personalities/skills/tendencies helps us rightfully approach service and worship.

To help us prepare to engage together, each week we will be posting a devotional thought related to the coming Sunday’s topic. This week’s thought comes from François Fénelon, Talking with God, trans. Hal M. Helms (Brewster, MA: Paraclete, 1997), 141-42.

We must carry the cross as a treasure.  It is through the cross that we are made worthy of God and conformed to the likeness of his Son.  Crosses are a part of our daily bread.  God regulates the measure of them according to our real wants, which he knows, and for which we are ignorant.  Let him do as he wills, and let us resign ourselves into his hands.

Be a child of divine providence.  Leave it to your relatives and friends to reason about things.  DO not think about the future from afar.  The manna was corrupted when, out of prudent foresight, they wished to provide sufficient supply for more than one day.  Do not say, What shall we do tomorrow?  “Tomorrow will worry about itself” [St. Matthew 6:34 (NIV)].  Confine yourself today to your present needs.  God will give you each day the help that is proportioned to that day.  “Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” [Psalm 34:10 (NIV)].  Providence would do miracles for us, but we hinder these miracles by trying to anticipate them.  We make for ourselves, by our restless industry, a providence as defective as the providence of God would be certain.

Be faithful and docile.  By an infinite distrust of yourself make your weaknesses profitable, and by a childlike pliability allow yourself to be corrected.  Humility will be your strength, even in the midst of weakness.

I do not doubt that our Lord will always treat you as one of his friends; that is to say, he will send you crosses, sufferings, humiliations.  These ways and means, which God makes us of to draw souls to himself, do this work so much better and more quickly than the creature’s own efforts; for the very fact of its being God’s action alone is destructive to self-love and tears up the roots which we cannot even discover without great difficulty.  But God, who knows all the secret lurking places of self-love, proceeds forthwith to attack it in its stronghold, and upon its own ground.

If we were strong enough and faithful enough to trust ourselves entirely to God, and to follow him simply wherever he wished to lead us, we should have no need of great application of mind to labour in the work of our perfection.  But because we are so weak in faith that we wish to know where we are going, without trusting to God, our way becomes much longer, and spoils our spiritual affairs.

Abandon yourself as much as you can to God, until your last breath, and he will never forsake you.

Meeting and Being Jesus in the Marketplace

This summer in Sunday School, we have been “learning from Jesus” together.  So far we have explored what it meant for Him to be Messiah, how the Trinity challenges us to jump into the deep things of God, different ways people respond to Jesus, considered who the Kingdom of God is for, thought about the practice of Christian rest, purposed to find our satisfaction in God/His provision, seen how Jesus confronts blind spots in our lives where we serve the kingdom of Satan rather than the Kingdom of God, been asked to engage in true and deep Christian community, and last week Sidney showed us how Jesus reimagines life in abundance and scarcity.  This week, we will be hitting the idea of balancing the Mary and the Martha.

To help us prepare to engage together, each week we will be posting a devotional thought related to the coming Sunday’s topic. This week’s thought comes from Emilie Griffin, The Reflective Executive (New York: Crossroad, 1993), 13-14, 18-19, 166-67.

From my first office in New York City, on the thirty-seventh floor of a Fifth Avenue tower, I could look down on St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  It looked like a child’s plaything, a toy cathedral that I could lift and carry somewhere.  Something about this troubled me.  Cathedrals, I felt, should be looked up to.  Later, when I visited England, I saw how cathedrals can dominate landscapes.  Then I understood the new power balance of twentieth-century life.  Lever House and the Seagram’s Building, I concluded, are our new cathedrals.  The Chrysler Building and the Empire State our statements of value. Dwarfing the little churches on Park Avenue and Wall Street, they have created a new ethos.  These buildings are proclamations of power.  Do we as executives need to leave these buildings in order to experience faith?  Or is God with us in the Marketplace?…

God is here!  He is actually present!  It is not beneath him to dwell on the Staten Island ferry, heading for Lower Manhattan.  He is willing to descend with us into the underground chambers of the subway, to be with us in discomfort, boredom, alienation.  He accompanies us to the boardroom.  He attends the year-end meeting.  In the community formed by us, by colleagues, by purchasers, buyers and sellers, customers satisfied and unsatisfied, he is present, bearing our sorrows, acquainted with grief.

What a contrast to our common way of thinking: that business, which is by its very nature materialistic, somehow has to be spiritualized.  The reality is otherwise.  It is our mistake to think that we will somehow take business, which is unholy, and by some sacrifice or offering, make it holy.  That tragic mistake is the crucial error we must expose.  To correct this false notion we need not only action but contemplation….

The reflective executive is one who walks by faith and thinks by metaphor; who sees in the terror and anxiety of the twentieth century a call to holiness, who understands daily experience as a call to conversion, who lives in dialogue with God, making intercession for others; who throws her own life into the breach when necessary; who manifests a concern for others; who takes into account, in business decisions, the intolerable sound of the word “trade-off” and at the same time the relentless necessity of compromise; who operates within the realm of the practical knowing that with God, all things are possible; who looks long, looks hard, looks prophetically and with vision at the improbable realignments that take place in society daily; who sets aside, to the extent possible, the biases, the scotosis, the distortions of ancient enmities and strife; and who longs for reconciliation, solidarity, sisterhood, brotherhood—perhaps for civility most of all.

The reflective executive is in short a hero and a saint, dressed in the ordinary garb of the marketplace.  This executive is one who lives not only by getting things done but by getting the right things done because she lives in the sight of the Lord all the days of her life.  Her courage and her vision are unconquerable.  She lives for her Master’s counsel, and in his presence her heart is lifted up and consoled.  She is anointed with the oil of gladness because she understands the generosity of the Lord’s favor to her; and she is willing to walk through the canyons of cities built by commerce and weakened by double-dealing, to mend the broken statues, and to repair the shattered dreams.

Jesus: Our Abundance

This summer in Sunday School, we have been “learning from Jesus” together.  So far we have explored what it meant for Him to be Messiah, how the Trinity challenges us to jump into the deep things of God, different ways people respond to Jesus, considered who the Kingdom of God is for, thought about the practice of Christian rest, purposed to find our satisfaction in God/His provision, seen how Jesus confronts blind spots in our lives where we serve the kingdom of Satan rather than the Kingdom of God, and last week Amy asked us to engage in true and deep Christian community.  This week Sidney Mays will be teaching us about abundant life.

To help us prepare to engage together, each week we will be posting a devotional thought related to the coming Sunday’s topic. This week’s thought comes from Walter Brueggemann, “Enough is Enough,” The Other Side (Nov./Dec. 2001, 37, no. 6), 10-13.

The Bible is about abundance.  From the first chapters of Genesis, God not only initiates abundance—calling forth plants and fish and birds and animals—but promises continued abundance by commanding them to “increase and multiply” (1:22).  God’s generosity and fidelity reach their climax on the sixth day, when God proclaims a sufficiency for “everything that has the breath of life” and declares all this “very good” (1:30-31).  Having thus set in motion a world of abundance, God rests—the mechanisms are in place, the world will have enough.

Of course, things don’t turn out quite that way.  Dissatisfied with what they’ve been given, God’s creatures want more.  Instead, they get les.  The bountiful earth becomes stingy; even bread won’t abound without sweat.  Scarcity sets in, bubbling under the narrative, breaking through here and there, and finally bursting forth full-blown in Egypt, where abundance gets locked up in Pharaoh’s warehouses, to be parceled out for money, then possessions, then slavery.  Scarcity reaches a point where the immigrant Israelites, having traded their freedom for food, don’t even have straw to make the bricks that slavery demands.  Like so many other victims of scarcity, they great out—whether for help, or just from the hurt, the Bible doesn’t say.

God hears their cry, and sends Moses to tell Pharaoh that the God of abundance has come to free the Israelites from this ideology of scarcity.  And Yahweh won’t accept no for an answer.  It takes convincing, but Pharaoh finally agrees—at least long enough for the Israelites to gather their belongings and put a river between themselves and Egypt. 

It isn’t long before what they have left behind starts to look good compared to what they must face.  They left the land of scarcity thinking they would bounce into the land of abundance.  Instead, they find themselves at risk in a wilderness, a desert with no visible life-support systems, a place of scarcity where even bread seems an impossibility.  Having inhaled the continuing reality of scarcity throughout their lives, the Israelites breathe out murmurs, complaints, condemnations, and reveries of Egypt—where at least there was bread.

Then, in this desert wilderness, break inexplicably appears.  A fine, flaky substance comes down, answering Israel’s risk with a manifestation of God’s faithful generosity.  This bread violates all their categories: It overturns their conviction about scarcity and cancels their anxiety about hunger.  The gift of bread transforms the wilderness.  And from that point on, Israel would entertain the thought that a place of perceived scarcity may turn out to be a place of wondrous abundance.

In the New Testament, Jesus knows all about the generosity and fidelity of God.  In his very person, the whole of Israel’s faith is expressed with a new intensity.  Filled with God’s generosity, Jesus went around to people suffering from scarcity—of health, of acceptance, of power, of understanding—and replaced it with a gift of abundance.

The eighth chapter of Mark’s Gospel contains the second feeding narrative, a story rich in Israel’s past.  Jesus notices that the people who’ve been listening to him have run out of food.  He’s been here before, back in chapter six where he fed the five thousand.  But hunger—scarcity—isn’t a one-time experience, and Jesus isn’t in the “symbolic gesture” business.  He’s in the generosity business, and that means being constantly alert to any mismatch between the generosity of God and the needs of the people.

In this instance, the mismatch moves Jesus “to compassion”—a Greek term that means that his insides are turned over.  Jesus has this strange bodily sense of an emergency. He cares about the hungry and knows something must be done…

Mark uses four words to describe what Jesus did: took, gave thanks, broke, and gave.  The words are familiar; they are Eucharistic words.  Out in the desert, Jesus uses seven loaves to conduct a sit-down thanksgiving dinner that matches the needs of the people with the generosity of God.  And his actions are transformative….Jesus has put into practice the generosity of the Creator.  It is as though Genesis 1 reappears in Mark 8, and the world is again made new.

Appreciating and Appropriating Christian Community

This summer in Sunday School, we have been “learning from Jesus” together.  So far we have explored what it meant for Him to be Messiah, how the Trinity challenges us to jump into the deep things of God, different ways people and we respond to Jesus, considered who the Kingdom of God is for, thought about the practice of Christian rest, purposed to find our satisfaction in God/His provision, and last week Amy challenged to confront blind spots in our lives where we serve the kingdom of Satan rather than the Kingdom of God.  This week Amy will be teaching us about Christian community.

To help us prepare to engage together, each week we will be posting a devotional thought related to the coming Sunday’s topic. This week’s thought comes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together: A Discussion of Christian Fellowship, trans. John W. Doberstein (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1954), 19-21.

The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.  Longingly, the imprisoned apostle Paul calls his “dearly beloved son in the faith,” Timothy to come to him in prison in the last days of his life; he would see him again and have him near. Paul has not forgotten the tears Timothy shed when last they parted (II Tim. 1:4).  Remembering the congregation in Thessalonica, Paul prays “night and day…exceedingly that we might see your face” (I Thess. 3:10).  The aged John knows that his joy will not be full until he can come to his own people and speak face to face instead of writing with ink (II John 12).

The believer feels no shame, as though he were still living too much in the flesh, when he yearns for the physical presence of other Christians.  Man was created a body, the Son of God appeared on earth in the body, he was raised in the body, in the sacrament the believer received the Lord Christ in the body, and the resurrection of the dead will bring about the perfected fellowship of God’s spiritual-physical creatures.  The believer therefore lauds the Creator, the Redeemer, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the bodily presence of a brother.  The prisoner, the sick person, the Christian in exile sees in the companionship of a fellow Christian a physical sign of the gracious presence of the triune God.  Visitor and visited in loneliness recognize in each other the Christ who is present in the body; they receive and meet each other as one meets the Lord, in reverence, humility, and joy.  They receive each other’s benedictions as the benediction of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But if there is so much blessing and joy even in a single encounter of brother with brother, how inexhaustible are the riches that open up for those who by God’s will are privileged to live in that daily fellowship of life with other Christians!…

Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ.  No Christian community is more or less than this.  Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this.  We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.

What does this mean?  It means, first, that a Christian needs others because of Jesus Christ.  It means, second, that a Christian comes to others only through Jesus Christ.  It means, third, that in Jesus Christ we have been chosen from eternity, accepted in time, and united for eternity.

“Principalities and Powers”

This summer in Sunday School, we have been “learning from Jesus” together.  So far we have explored what it meant for Him to be Messiah, how the Trinity challenges us to jump into the deep things of God, different ways people and we respond to Jesus, considered who the Kingdom of God is for, thought about the practice of Christian rest, and last week Amy challenged us to find our satisfaction in God and God’s provision.  This week Amy will be teaching us about spiritual warfare.

To help us prepare to engage together, each week we will be posting a devotional thought related to the coming Sunday’s topic. This week’s thought comes from Richard Foster and his book The Challenge of the Disciplined Life, (San Francisco: HarperSan-Francisco, 1985), 180-183.

The demonic is precisely where destructive power reaches its apex.  The Bible speaks of very real cosmic spiritual powers that manifest themselves in the very real structures of our very real world.  The apostle Paul’s favorite term to describe this spiritual reality is “the principalities and powers,” though he uses other terms as well—“authorities,” “dominions,” “thrones,” “rulers,” “the elemental spirits of the universe,” “princes of this world,” and still others.  These “powers” account for the destructive bent of power that we see all around us. Indeed, it is only as we begin to understand what the Bible calls “the principalities and powers” that we can truly confront the power issue in our own lives.

We must not dismiss this teaching as the relic of a prescientific era.  The Bible is dealing with a far more profound reality than forked-tailed demons in red pajamas or benign ghosts.  The powers are not spooks floating around in the air preying on unwary individuals but spiritual realities that play a definite role in the affairs of human beings.

The powers are created realities…The powers were once related to the creative will of God; however, we no longer see them in this role.  They are in revolt and rebellion against God their Creator…The powers are incarnational.  They are the energizing forces behind human beings and social structures….

The powers, however, do not “possess” just individuals but organizations and whole structures of society.  Institutions can and do often become nothing more than organized sin.  There are fundamental spiritual realities that underlie all political, social, and economic systems….  Organizations and whole nations are often defined and controlled by particular concepts and ideologies.  There is a prevailing mood or spirit that gives unity and direction to whole groups of people.  These moods are not created in a vacuum, but are closely tied to very genuine spiritual realities.  Hence, when we speak of “the spirit of a group” we are perhaps saying more than we know.

For example, when the Ku Klux Klan members gather together, the collective hatred is something that is greater than the sum of its parts.  When a certain critical flashpoint of prejudice and ruthlessness is reached, a “mob spirit” erupts that no single individual is able to control.  Spiritual powers are involved in the creation of such realities….

What does this mean to us on a practical level?  Well, when we look at our own insane drive to make it to the top, we must confront the powers of pride and prestige that grip our hearts.  When there is a school board decision that does a disservice to children, we must confront the powers of vested interest and self-seeking tat stand behind that decision.  We must seek out the “spiritual” that energizes the unjust law or the unjust corporate structure and seek to defeat it in the power of Christ.