October – 2018
Though I have never done an All-Church Book Study before, I am really enjoying my experience with this All-Church Book Study of God Unbound by Elaine Heath. Back in May of this year I read the book at the recommendation of Bishop Ough, who suggested that all clergy of the conference read it and receive its ‘Wisdom from Galatians for the anxious church’ as its subtitle proclaims.
I got some good insights in my first reading back four months ago, and am enjoying reading it again as I prepare for my sermons and my small group meetings. But what is helping me get the most out of this book is our small group study. There’s something about our group of 5 or 6 that is making me consider things I missed before or ponder with the group some issues that struck them as they were reading.
In one of our last small group conversations, we discussed this quote from page 38 of Heath’s book: “Mysticism and mission go hand in hand in the Methodist story. Hearing from God and allowing ourselves to be transformed and sent in new directions is inherent in our tradition.” We talked about how in our lifetimes we have been transformed, along with our society, in our understandings of how pervasive such prejudices as racism and sexism are in our society. It was a lively discussion and a pivotal quote that I had missed my first two times through the book.
I’m also enjoying studying Paul’s words in his letter to Galatia and seeing how many different ways he can reiterate and expand on his central thesis: “No one needs to become a Jew before they can become a Christian.” He addresses so many different issues that the Galatians are struggling with, that he has essentially answered every question or objection that they could ever come up with. I have never preached a series on the book of Galatians before and I’m finding it fulfilling and enjoyable.
I hope you are enjoying this All-Church Book Study as well, and that you are getting valuable insights into the nature of Christ and the nature of our faith as we learn from the wisdom of Paul and his letter to a struggling church in Galatia.
I’m so proud of all of you for getting the book and reading it during the All-Church Book Study. Where we usually have at most 12-15 people in any given Bible Study or Lenten Study, we have 30 people who have purchased and taken a book to read alone or with their own group of friends, creating their own small group in their apartment complex.
I look forward to finishing this study with you in October and look forward to hearing more of your insights and questions that are raised by it.