STUDIES THROUGH THE CHURCH YEAR
The studies provided here are based on the main Sunday lectionary readings for the church year (Year C). You are welcome to use these studies for your own meditation, for Home Group sessions, or as an additional resource to complement and reinforce the message of the Sunday sermon.
After Trinity Sunday and Pentecost we move into “Proper Time” in the Church Lectionary. During this period between Pentecost and Advent, the Old Testament, Gospel and Epistle readings follow separate tracks, with no deliberate thematic connection between them. Those who know me will understand why I have chosen to concentrate on the Old Testament track, which begins with episodes from the story of Elijah, and we will begin at the beginning of the Elijah series, even though it leaves us slightly out of kilter with the set schedule for 2019.
The Elijah series starts with the most dramatic episode in his prophetic ministry, and the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal.
ELIJAH 1 (June 23rd) – Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
Elijah stands alone, face to face with the 450 Priests of Baal who serve Queen Jezebel. He challenges them to prove who is the true God, Baal or Yahweh, and calls the people of Israel to choose to serve and obey the God who answers by fire. Is there really any contest? Even though Elijah is alone, he trusts in the God who “is to be feared above all gods. – for all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.”
ELIJAH 2 (June 30th) – The Widow of Zarephath
God sends Elijah to find a widow who lives in Zarephath in Sidon (the land of the Philistines). God is sending Elijah away from Jezebel’s anger, but there is a surprising twist to the story. Jezebel was in fact “daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians”. Elijah is hiding under Jezebel’s nose!
When Jesus refers to this story in his first sermon in Nazareth, the congregation are furious to be reminded that, although there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s day, God sent Elijah to bless a foreigner – and not just a foreigner but someone from Jezebel’s home territory and their traditional enemy.
Can the story help us to examine our own attitude towards the poor, the oppressed and the foreigners in our midst?
ELIJAH 3 (July 7th) – Naboth’s Vineyard
Naboth is just doing the “right thing” in protecting his family vineyard and refusing to give in to Ahab’s selfishness and short-sighted greed. Yet Ahab (aided by Jezebel’s ruthless manipulation) gets what he wants, and Naboth pays the price. Why should the wicked be allowed to get away with it?
ELIJAH 4 (July 14th) Elijah flees from Jezebel
After the dramatic confrontation on Mount Carmel, Elijah flees from Jezebel’s wrath. Traumatised and exhausted, he sits under a broom tree and wishes he were dead. But God hasn’t finished with him yet. Even heroes like Elijah sometimes need some special loving care from a loving and caring God.
Download previous studies
ADVENT 1 (Dec 2nd) – Keeping Faith in the Promise
ADVENT 2 (Dec 9th) – Better than the Routine
ADVENT 3 (Dec 16th) – God is Right Here, Right Now
ADVENT 4 (Dec 23rd) – A Body You Prepared for Me
CHRISTMAS 1 (Dec 30th) Jesus at the Temple
5th BEFORE LENT (Feb 3rd) First-born son – Presentation of Christ at the Temple
4th BEFORE LENT (Feb 10th) First Disciples – serving a mighty God
3rd BEFORE LENT (Feb 17th) First Risen from the Dead – blessings and woes
2nd BEFORE LENT (Feb 24th) First in Honour – Jesus calms the storm
NEXT BEFORE LENT (Mar 3rd) First Glimpse of Glory – the transfiguration
LENT 1 (March 10th) There but for the Grace of God…
LENT 2 (March 17th) Grace rejected… but never withheld
LENT 3 (March 24th) No excuse for unfruitfulness
LENT 4 (March 31st) When the world lets us down
LENT 5 (April 7th) All for God
EASTER 2 (April 28th) – What Next?
EASTER 3 (May 5th) – Shadow of the Cross
EASTER 4 (May 12th) – One Step at a Time
EASTER 5 (May 19th) – Crossing Cultural Barriers
EASTER 6 (May 26th) – God’s Blessing on the Nations
EASTER 7 (June 2nd) – Only Believe