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Weekly Study Guide August 12, 2018 St. Andrew Weekly Bible Study August 5, 2018


Genesis 1:1–5, 26–28; 2:7–8

When God began to create the heavens and the earth—2 the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters—3 God said, “Let there be light.” And so light appeared. 4 God saw how good the light was. God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God named the light Day and the darkness Night. There was evening and there was morning: the first day. Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.” 27 God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” 26

…7 the Lord God formed the human from the topsoil of the fertile land and blew life’s breath into his nostrils. The human came to life. 8 The Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east and put there the human he had formed.

Is this a bad world from which we should seek to escape or a good world awaiting its redemption? And what does that mean for us? As we come upon another hurricane season, one can’t help but wonder what new suffering the world will inflict on its inhabitants this year. Surely, Harvey was a once-in-alifetime event. We hope. As I write, scores of Greeks are dying in wildfires. There are ever present reminders around the globe that so-called “natural” disasters are a fact of life, inflicting pain and misery on millions. And there is more, what place does a children’s cancer ward have in a world made by a good and loving God? The simple question is “Why?” How could this be? Where is God in all this? Could it be that God isn’t really as good and loving as we think? Or perhaps God would like to do something about it, but can’t. Perhaps God isn’t really as powerful as we think. Over the years, such questions have come to my mind many times and I’m sure the same is true for you. In 2011, we considered some of these questions, beginning with a close reading of the creation, stories led by Terence Fretheim, a highly-regarded Old Testament scholar. Here is some of that walk-through.

A good world, but not a perfect world Fretheim begins by asking us to take a closer look at the creation story. He contends that the world was created good, but not perfect; that the world was created with the expectation of change and growth. In other words, the cosmos created by God was built to be dynamic not static, from the beginning. The dynamism had nothing to do with sin and rebellion; it is just the nature of the fabric from which our world was made.


Here’s some of the evidence from the creation accounts. • God pronounces creation “good” and “very good” at the end of each creating day. But what does it mean? It can’t really mean perfection or finality, for after God creates the man, we learn that God recognizes that “it is not good that the man should be alone” and God resolves to make the man a helper (2:18). When the animals prove unsatisfactory helpers, God fashions a woman, using the man as raw materials. All this speaks to growth and change, even to elements of the “not good” being present in the “good” creation. • When God gives the humans a beautiful garden in which to live, they are also told it is theirs “to till and keep” (2:15). Thus, the garden itself is a place of growth and change that must be tended and worked. It is good but it is not “perfect” or even “complete.” In the context of a garden that must be worked, I’m not even sure what “perfect” means, but it can’t mean static or unchanging. • The most direct evidence of a “good not perfect” creation is from Genesis 1:28. God gives the humans this charge: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and master/subdue it.” Master it?1 A creation which still must be subdued is far from perfect or complete. Fretheim suggests that the best sense of the Hebrew here is “to bring order out of continuing disorder.” The result of this “subduing” must be that the creation came to look far different than it did on the seventh day, just as it continues to look different each day from the day before. What is the result of all this? A remarkable statement of God’s choosing to make humanity partners in the on-going processes of creation. From the beginnings of creation, the humans are given responsibility for God’s creation and participate in its on-going dynamism and growth. Fretheim puts it this way: “From the beginning, God chooses not to be the only one who has creative power and the capacity, indeed the obligation, to exercise it….God is a power-sharing God, indeed a creation-sharing God, and God will be faithful to that way of relating to those created in the divine image.” In grappling with the difficult theological issues created by natural disasters, we have to begin by recognizing that the cosmos was created as changing and dynamic, even wild and hostile, needing to be subdued. This is a far cry from the placid and idyllic Garden of Eden that is portrayed by most artists. Further this dynamism and wildness is pronounced “good” and “very good” by God. This is how God designed the cosmos and, thus, God is pleased with his creation. How could it be otherwise? Nonetheless, this challenges some of our long-held notions of God’s creative activity as well as our own participation in it.

Good (not perfect) but marred by sin So, yes, God’s creation is good though it needs to be mastered. Just think of all the human energy and wealth that has been devoted to slaughtering other humans that could have been focused on overcoming diseases and disaster. God’s creation has been marred by human sinfulness, both by commission and omission. Thus, Paul gets it exactly right in Romans 8:18-21 when he speaks of creation awaiting its own redemption. When? When Jesus returns and the weight of human sin is lifted.


Of course, Jesus hasn’t returned…yet. So the question is what do we do as we too await the consummation of his kingdom? The answer lies in understanding that we are all called to do all we can to overcome, extend and build upon the goodness in this world. This is the work of us all. It is a ministry God has given to each of us.

Questions for Discussion and Reflection

Does the notion of a “good not perfect” creation strike you as a bit odd? How about a universe in which change and growth are built into its structure? Even further, how about this business of humanity needing to subdue a wild and hostile world? How different is all this from the ways you’ve thought of the creation stories and the Garden of Eden? How might this affect how you understand God’s work in the natural world? Finally, what can we learn from God’s handing over so much responsibility and power to humanity? What does it say about us? About the God we worship?

Daily Bible Readings This week: More on creation and new creation Monday | Genesis 1:1-2:4a – God creates the good creation. Tuesday | Genesis 2:4b-25 – God creates the humans and the good garden. Wednesday | Romans 1:18-23 – God’s power and nature can be seen in his creation. Thursday | Isaiah 65:17-25 – God’s glorious new creation Friday | Romans 8:18-25 – Creation groans awaiting its own redemption. Saturday | Revelation 21:1-8 – A new Jerusalem, a holy city, comes to earth.

Scott Engle’s Bible Classes

Monday Evening Class We are studying the book of Acts. Meets from 7:00-8:15 p.m. in Piro Hall This class will not meet on August 13. Tuesday Lunchtime Class We are studying the story of Jonah. Meets from 11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m. in Piro Hall

About the weekday classes: Join us whenever you can. Each week’s lesson stands on its own. This is very “dropin.” Bring something to eat if you like. Bring a study Bible. On occasion Scott must cancel class, so if you are coming for the first time, you can check scottengle.org to make sure the class is meeting. Scott’s 10:50 a.m. Sunday Class in Smith Worship Center This is a large, lecture-oriented class open to all ages. Our current series: Ten things you don’t have to believe to be a Jesus-lovin’, Biblebelievin’ Christian. This is a trip through some of the non-essentials of the Christian faith.


Sermon Notes


Connection Groups Fall Series: Habits Weeks September 9 Through October 7 “What do you want?” This question, not what you believe or what you do, is Jesus’ primary question to us. We are not merely the summation of what we think but how we feel. What we want out of life will shape what we do day to day. We see in the life of Jesus the truest form of what it means to be human, through the habits he chose to practice. Join us during this series as we explore what spiritual habits or practices we learn from the life of Jesus, and how these can help us to shape who we are and what we want in life, from the outside in. Commonly Asked Questions About Connection Groups: WHEN? Connection Groups meet various times throughout the week. WHERE? Some groups meet at the church; others choose to gather in homes. WHO? There are groups for every stage of life. WHAT DO I BRING? Yourself, a Bible, and a friend. Everyone is welcome. WHAT IF I CAN’T BE THERE EVERY WEEK? Come as many times as you can. Our groups are meant to create relationships, not add to your to-do list. WHAT IF I MISS WORSHIP? Come anyway! The discussion guides will allow you to participate even if you miss worship. Sermons are online at standrewumc.org/sermons CHILDCARE? Some groups that meet at the church have childcare available by reservation. Go to standrewumc.org/childcare for more information.

To sign up visit: standrewumc.org/connectiongroups


Connection Nights

Where New Connection Groups Are Formed Fellowship. Friendship. Faith Journeys. Tuesdays, September 11-October 9, 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m., Smith Worship Center

• Staff and volunteers will help guide you through each session. • Groups will discuss weekly topics, video content, and scripture. • Come make deeper connections through discussion and prayer. Connection Nights are the best place to begin your small group journey.

To register for Connection Nights, visit standrewumc.org/connectiongroups To register for Childcare, visit standrewumc.org/childcare Questions? Contact Beckye Brown, bbrown@standrewumc.org or Rev. Allison Jean, ajean@standrewumc.org


St. Andrew United Methodist Church 5801 W. Plano Parkway | Plano, TX 75093 | 972.380.8001 | standrewumc.org


Down and Dirty Weekly Study Guide August 19, 2018 St. Andrew Weekly Bible Study August 5, 2018


Genesis 3:1–6 (CEB)

The snake was the most intelligent of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say that you shouldn’t eat from any tree in the garden?” 2 The woman said to the snake, “We may eat the fruit of the garden’s trees 3 but not the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. God said, ‘Don’t eat from it, and don’t touch it, or you will die.’ ” 4 The snake said to the woman, “You won’t die! 5 God knows that on the day you eat from it, you will see clearly and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 The woman saw that the tree was beautiful with delicious food and that the tree would provide wisdom, so she took some of its fruit and ate it, and also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Genesis 4:13–14 (CEB) 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Now that you’ve driven me away from the fertile land and I am hidden from your presence, I’m about to become a roving nomad on the earth, and anyone who finds me will kill me.”

1 Corinthians 2:12, 12:4–7 (NRSV)

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 4 There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; 5 and there are different ministries and the same Lord; 6 and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good.

God’s Spirit empowers us to work for his kingdom! Last week, we saw that God made a world that is good, though not perfect, and then placed the humans in a good garden. They were to live and work in this garden, doing all the things we do in our own gardens: tilling, sowing, harvesting. We often forget that the work in the garden was given by God before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. We were created to work, to get involved in this world, to get our hands dirty in God’s good world. Sadly, this God-given work changed with the rebellion of the humans. The dirt would be hard, weeds and thorns would infest the ground. What had once been undiminished joy would become hard and difficult labor. So it still is with much of the work in our world; thus, it isn’t surprising that work too often gets a bad rap. Like so many of the difficulties in this world, work ends up being something from which we want to escape. I wonder how truly we grasp all that was lost when Adam and Eve were cast from the garden and Cain was exiled out into the world. It is understandable that hardships and suffering in this life cause people to reach for the “spiritual” and forget how the story begins: God makes a material world which the humans are to joyfully master and work. Too often we imagine that the Christian story is one of escape, leaving this troubled world behind as we make our way to the heavens. But the incarnation of Jesus, God-made-flesh, and his resurrection point us to the goodness of God’s material creation and our own need to get down and dirty in this world, not to escape from it.


Working for the kingdom Christians too often take from all this the notion that because of rebellion and sin, they aren’t “worthy” or even able to do genuine good. Many of us look at our own failings and conclude that the work of the kingdom is better left to others. We have little grasp of how the Spirit of God is working in our life. We fall back on our own power, resources, and authority. When we consider what goes on, or should go on, in our church we often think of it as we would in our schools or businesses. But the church is formed by and led by the Holy Spirit, as is every Christian. The Spirit dwells in us all and works with us to build for God’s kingdom. Do you feel and see the Spirit moving at St. Andrew? I do. And we are all part of it. One church, many parts, as Paul put it. A variety of gifts, yes, but the Spirit undergirds and empowers all we do. We can know these things from Scripture, but Paul also wants us to rely on our experience of the Holy Spirit: “Did you experience so much for nothing – if it really was for nothing. ‘ (Galatians 3:4, NRSV). As Richard Hays put it: Galatians 3:1–5 highlights the experience of the Holy Spirit as the sign and proof of the new life in Christ…. The formerly pagan Galatians have been caught up by the power of the proclaimed gospel into a new life in which they continually experience the outpouring of God’s Spirit and see the Spirit’s mighty works in their community… Paul’s line of argument here should be startling to Christians who insist on going strictly “by the book” of traditional teaching—as startling as it was to conscientious Jewish Christians of Paul’s day. Where the Spirit breaks in and brings new life, we should acknowledge it gratefully as God’s doing and not worry too much about whether all the proper rules and ecclesiastical proprieties are being observed. The preacher who follows the message of this passage will call the congregation to remember and reclaim their identity as God’s people solely on the basis of their living experience of God’s grace and power; no one should “bewitch” them into thinking of themselves as second-class Christians or as spiritually deficient because they have not undergone some discipline or ritual….1

One body, many parts In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Christians, he addresses house churches that fail to grasp well the work of the Spirit in and among them. Most of us quickly grasp several of Paul’s points. First, God has given his Spirit to us all, so that we can understand the gifts God has given us and put them to work for his purposes. Second, we know that God has given us a variety of gifts. Whether we call them gifts or talents, we know that some are good at one thing, others at another. Third, we understand that these various gifts make our community stronger. To use Paul’s body metaphor (see 12:14-26), the eye needs the hand which needs the foot. The body needs them all. Our diversity is a benefit – so long as it is lived out in love and in unity of purpose. So, let us be ready to get down and dirty as we work to build lives, families, and communities that reflect Christ’s love and faithfulness, always letting others see the Spirit’s work in us.

Questions for Discussion and Reflection It can be very hard for us to grasp and to know that God’s Spirit works in each of us.


Sometimes we can allow ourselves to “tune out” God’s Spirit so completely it is as if we are tone-deaf! You see, this is not magic. The Holy Spirit works with each of us, but not as if we are mere puppets. This is about cooperation and will and discipline. What can we do to help each other and ourselves to trust in God’s Spirit and to embrace the power, passion, and purpose that is God’s gift to us? Here’s a hint. The immediate follow-up to Pentecost was this: “They (the believers) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers.” Jesus disciples did not sit around passively waiting for the next ecstatic experience. They went to work.

Daily Bible Readings This week: More on the Spirit and the gifts given us all Monday | 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 & 6:19-20 – Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians that collectively and individually they are God’s temples. Tuesday | 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13 – None of the gifts we are given by God for the work of the church are superior to the others. Wednesday | 1 Corinthians 14:1-25 – Using gifts wisely. A case in point. Thursday | 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 – Using our gifts for the good of the community not for ourselves. Friday | Philippians 1:3-11 – Living in the body of Christ Saturday | Acts 4:32-37 – The first community of believers

Scott Engle’s Bible Classes Monday Evening Class We are studying the book of Acts. Meets from 7:00-8:15 p.m. in Piro Hall Tuesday Lunchtime Class We are studying Paul’s letter 1 Thessalonians. Meets from 11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m. in Piro Hall

About the weekday classes: Join us whenever you can. Each week’s lesson stands on its own. This is very “dropin.” Bring something to eat if you like. Bring a study Bible. On occasion Scott must cancel class, so if you are coming for the first time, you can check scottengle.org to make sure the class is meeting. Scott’s 10:50 a.m. Sunday Class in Smith Worship Center This is a large, lecture-oriented class open to all ages. Beginning this week: Paul: A biography. This will be a fresh look at the life and ministry of Paul.


Sermon Notes


Connection Groups Fall Series: Habits Weeks September 9 Through October 7 “What do you want?” This question, not what you believe or what you do, is Jesus’ primary question to us. We are not merely the summation of what we think but how we feel. What we want out of life will shape what we do day to day. We see in the life of Jesus the truest form of what it means to be human, through the habits he chose to practice. Join us during this series as we explore what spiritual habits or practices we learn from the life of Jesus, and how these can help us to shape who we are and what we want in life, from the outside in. Commonly Asked Questions About Connection Groups: WHEN? Connection Groups meet various times throughout the week. WHERE? Some groups meet at the church; others choose to gather in homes. WHO? There are groups for every stage of life. WHAT DO I BRING? Yourself, a Bible, and a friend. Everyone is welcome. WHAT IF I CAN’T BE THERE EVERY WEEK? Come as many times as you can. Our groups are meant to create relationships, not add to your to-do list. WHAT IF I MISS WORSHIP? Come anyway! The discussion guides will allow you to participate even if you miss worship. Sermons are online at standrewumc.org/sermons CHILDCARE? Some groups that meet at the church have childcare available by reservation. Go to standrewumc.org/childcare for more information.

To sign up visit: standrewumc.org/connectiongroups


Connection Nights

Where New Connection Groups Are Formed Fellowship. Friendship. Faith Journeys. Tuesdays, September 11-October 9, 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m., Smith Worship Center

• Staff and volunteers will help guide you through each session. • Groups will discuss weekly topics, video content, and scripture. • Come make deeper connections through discussion and prayer. Connection Nights are the best place to begin your small group journey.

To register for Connection Nights, visit standrewumc.org/connectiongroups To register for Childcare, visit standrewumc.org/childcare Questions? Contact Beckye Brown, bbrown@standrewumc.org or Rev. Allison Jean, ajean@standrewumc.org


St. Andrew United Methodist Church 5801 W. Plano Parkway | Plano, TX 75093 | 972.380.8001 | standrewumc.org

2018-08-12 study guide  
2018-08-12 study guide