The Old Testament's Greatest Hits

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September 11 - November 20, 2016

The Old Testament is a daunting collection of ancient texts, comprised of numerous different genres and a wide range of historical settings and circumstances. But there is no doubt that some stories from the Hebrew Bible rise above the others. They’re the stories we learned in Sunday school. They make biblical characters memorable. They make God dynamic and personal. And, when we look at them closely, they make us aware of the exciting ways God is still at work. In this series, we look at the “Top Ten” of the Old Testament. We will find that there’s much more to these stories than our childhood Sunday school lessons led us to believe.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Old Testament's Greatest Hits (Part 1)

David—the young shepherd boy—challenges the (giant) Philistine champion with only a staff, a sling, and five smooth stones. David faces the impossible odds of the world's evil in the same way that Christians are called to do: by leaving behind the tools of worldly violence and trusting that the battle is the Lord's.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Old Testament's Greatest Hits (Part 2)

Samson, often lifted up as a hero of the Old Testament—even as a Christ-like figure—turns out, on closer inspection, to be an abject failure on almost every count. His biggest failure has a lot to teach us about what faithfulness requires of us in the twenty-first century.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Old Testament's Greatest Hits (Part 3)

Humanity, united by a common language, seeks to build a tower to the heavens, but God foils their plans by confusing their tongues and scattering them around the world. God wills unity for God's people, but it has to be of the right sort. And by the same token, there is a scattering that is part of God's purpose for humanity—but it has to be of the right sort.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Old Testament's Greatest Hits (Part 4)

The Rev. Dr. Kirt Anderson, guest preacher. Through the manipulations of his jealous adversaries, Daniel—a righteous and devout man—finds himself spending the night in a den of lions. Though it is tempting to see Daniel as a powerful man and a great hero, it was not because of his power, prowess, or prayer that the lions' mouths were shut. It was something far simpler, and far more significant.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Old Testament's Greatest Hits (Part 5)

The story of Noah's and the Ark—although familiar to all of us from Sunday school stories, children's books, and toys a-plenty—has some radical implications for our understanding of who God is and how God is at work in the world.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Old Testament's Greatest Hits (Part 6)

Elijah squares off against the prophets of Baal in a contest of the gods in order to prove whose god is the One True God. Elijah's God wins the contest handily, but it's not so clear that any progress has been made. Perhaps all the battles we fight to prove we're right are less important than we think, and that God desires something different—something more—from us.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Old Testament's Greatest Hits (Part 7)

The king of Moab, fearful of the Israelites' military strength, hires Balaam, a seer, to curse Israel. But through an extraordinarily strange turn of events, things backfire badly for the king, and we witness how the most unlikely people and the most unexpected circumstances can still function to bring about the will of God.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Old Testament's Greatest Hits (Part 8)

The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is often pointed to as the singular moment that gave rise to salvation history as we know it: the history of God's work of salvation in the world. But rather than seeing in it the "Fall of Man," the story is deeper and richer when we find in it the paradigmatic expression of human nature in relation to a loving creator.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Old Testament's Greatest Hits (Part 9)

Moving outward from Eden, we immediately are forced to reckon with Cain and his act of murder. More than fratricide, this act is paradigmatic for all human sin, and it places Cain—and us—into a strained relationship with God, with creation, and with one another.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Old Testament's Greatest Hits (Part 10)

When Moses goes up Mt. Sinai to meet with God and takes too long in returning to the Israelites, the people decide they need a physical representation of the deity who feels too inaccessible to them. We construct idols even today, not as objects of our worship, but as objects of our trust.