The 1030 Teaching Plan – Spring 2019
20 Jan 'Called from community for community' Genesis 1:26-28
27 Jan 'God's Design' Genesis 1:26-31
3 Feb Resourcing Church Launch
10 Feb 'Marriage/Singleness' Genesis 2:4-25
17 Feb All-age service
24 Feb 'Brokenness/Redemption' Genesis 3:1-24
3 Mar 'Blessed to be a Blessing' Genesis 12:1-9
6 Mar Ash Wednesday
10 Mar 'Generosity' Genesis 14:1-24
17 Mar 'Covenant and Kingdom' Genesis 15
24 Mar 'Hagar and Ishmael' Genesis 16
31 Mar 'Generosity and Hospitality 1' Genesis 18
7 Apr Gift Day and APCM
14 Apr 'Looking ahead to the cross: calling and redemption' Genesis 22 Palm Sunday
Who am I? Why am I here? What is life about anyway? These are questions that most of us think about in one way or another from time to time. They are questions we might ask as part of a journey to coming to faith and they are also questions that we ask even if we have been Christians for a long time. The question of ‘call’ is one in our secular society that we under value but being able discern and articulate a sense of ‘who am I?’, ‘why am I here?’ is really powerful as it then helps us answer the question, ‘how then should I live?’ The book of Genesis has a lot to say about ‘call’. Between Christmas and Easter of 2019 in The 1030 we will follow a teaching series called, ‘The Call and Callings of God’ based on an in-depth review of Genesis 1-3 and then an examination and exploration of the life and ‘call’ of Abraham.
Genesis 1-3 are well known passages and contain the biblical accounts of creation. Genesis 1 in effect offers a blueprint for life – it’s a statement of God’s design, of the way he intended creation to be and of humankind’s place and role in it.
Genesis 2 continues this story and then Genesis 3 goes on to describe how it all went horribly and tragically wrong. Adam and Eve made a tragic choice – they chose to put themselves at the centre rather than God, to turn their backs on God and live independently from him. As a consequence, the divine order of God’s original design was lost and then Gen 4-11 describes how ‘disorder’ spread through creation.
Although Genesis 1-3 contain such significant theological truths, they also have been the focus of a lot of debate. I am sure that many of us are aware to some extent of the science religion debate that has raged since days of Charles Darwin. The debate has centred on the nature of Genesis 1 and whether it conflicts with contemporary scientific understanding about how things came into being. The debate continues, and it is likely that anyone who has spent any time considering these questions will have formed opinions of their own which may vary from person to person. But I firmly believe that although we might prefer to nuance our understanding of how science and religion fit together, this doesn’t need to distract us from a consideration of the profound theological truths contained within these passages.
The science/religion debate around the creation accounts of Genesis has been exacerbated because of our tendency to read these passages as modern westerners. As with the study of any biblical writings the best starting point is to read them through the eyes of the people for whom it was originally written. A really excellent resource to help us do this with the early chapters of Genesis is a book by John Walton called ‘The Lost World of Genesis One’ which I recommend if you would like to go a bit deeper. Walton argues that the ancient writers were ‘functionally’ not ‘materially’ orientated and therefore Genesis 1-3 is written to celebrate the function of creation i.e. why God
created and what purpose it was to have. I want to suggest that it is much more fruitful and more accurate to read Genesis 1 in this way.
Genesis 1: a Blueprint for Creation
So functionally speaking, Genesis 1 offers us a blueprint for creation. Perhaps Gen 1:26-31 is perhaps most helpful in illustrating this. This passage states three significant things about this ‘blueprint’:
Firstly, that God created human beings in his likeness and image – the implication is that God’s intent was for humans (women and men together) to be the physical representation of himself (God) within creation.
Secondly, humans were created by community for community – God’s intent always was that humans together, not individually would represent him. There is something profound about the image of God we carry in that it can only be fully realised together, in community. This is a challenge to our wester individualistic mindsets.
Thirdly, the passage states that ‘God Blessed them, commanding them to subdue the earth and rule over it. the meaning here is that God placed humankind on earth to continue his creative work of bringing order out of chaos and to hold dominion and sway on God’s behalf over creation.
Following Genesis 1-3, the rest of the Bible is the story of how God sought to restore his blueprint for creation following the tragic ‘fall’ of creation recorded in Genesis 3. God sought to restore the functional blueprint for creation - the divinely ordained order and humankind’s place in this. This restoration effort began with Abraham and culminated with Jesus. God called Abraham back into a relationship with him where Abraham would know himself as blessed, with the command and promise that God would give him great fruitfulness that would lead to a great nation that would be a blessing to all. The implication of being a blessing to all is again this priestly one, that God’s people would represent God in the world. The story of Abraham points to Jesus in so many ways, not least of which is the testing of Abraham in Genesis 22 where he is asked to sacrifice his own son.
Through Jesus, God didn’t just offer a restoration of his divine purposes, but he offers us the chance for a ‘total system reboot’, a kind of restoration to factory settings. Through Jesus, through baptism, through the work of the Holy Spirit that Jesus makes possible, we can be remade, reborn, recreated and experience again the way things were meant to be, discovering again our calling and purpose within God’s divine order.
The Talk Series
So, reading Genesis is a rich and fruitful exercise. The call of all scripture is to place ourselves in the story so that we can learn more about who we are and what God calls us to be and to do. Our aim will be to address the question of call in a generalised (i.e. the ‘call’ we share with all Christians)
sense and to give us space to consider call in the specific sense (i.e. how is God calling me, here and now). Specifically, we hope to use Genesis to address the following questions and more:
God’s blueprint for life – how were things meant to be
Why is our experience so often one of ‘disorder’ and brokenness?
Where and how can we find redemption and restoration?
What does a ‘restored’ life look like?
How do we step back into God’s purposes?
The call to community and how we live in relationship with others.
What our attitude to the environment and creation should be?
The importance of family within God’s purposes.
We will explore all these themes and more. Here are the weekly titles: