Small Group Classes

As part of our commitment to providing excellent programming, we have small group classes which meet during the Fall and Spring.  These classes are an opportunity for those people who feel called to delve a bit deeper with the guidance of some remarkable mentors.    

Classes meet on Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30 PM.

Prayer: The Doorway into Thanks

Amy

Classes Meet from 5:30-6:30
Feb. 21, Feb. 28, Mar. 7 and Mar. 21
Facilitator: The Rev. Amy George

Sign up for class by clicking this link.
Location: The Lounge

Praying
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
― Mary OliverThirst

We live in a time of constant busyness and electronic connectedness. We are overscheduled, overstimulated, and perhaps overwhelmed, leaving little time for stillness. This lack of peace can lead to higher levels of stress, which in turn can affect our ability to connect spiritually. Using the insightful poems found in Mary Oliver’s book Thirst as a starting point, this class will delve into the topic of prayer. What is prayer? Why do we pray? What kind of prayer works for you? As we journey this season awaiting resurrection, this Lenten class will create a space to be still and pay attention so that we might deepen our connection to the Divine.

So What's in All Those Books: The Apocrypha and Its Usage in the Christian Church

Dan 380x280

Classes Meet from 5:30-6:30
Feb. 21, Feb. 28, Mar. 7 and Mar. 21
Facilitator: Daniel F. Pigg

Sign up for class by clicking this link.
Location: Peete

So what on earth is the Apocrypha? It is a collection of books written “between the time period of the testaments” is one answer. That is, it is a collection of books that the historic church accepted as scripture or perhaps in a status secondary to the established 39 books of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians regard these books as scripture equal to all other scripture; Lutherans and Episcopalians understand them as having a secondary status—hence the word “Deuterocanonicals.” Most Protestants reject them altogether as scripture. Today, most scholars understand how vital they are to understanding Judaism in the Second Temple period (515 BCE-70 AD/CE) that leads into the time of Jesus, hence important.

To examine these materials, first of all then, is to ask several questions: “What is scripture and who decides what constituted scripture along with what was the role of scripture in the community—Jewish and Christian?” The materials in the Apocrypha—all written in Greek—were composed from the third to the first century BCE in Judea and explain a great deal about the Jewish community under the control of the Greeks, the Ptolemies, and the Seleucids until the Romans came in 63 BCE. Our study will consider the materials according to their genres:

I. History according the methodology of history in the Old Testament (1, 2, 3, and 4 Maccabees, 1 and 2 Esdras);

II.  Additions in Greek to Esther and Daniel (additional chapters of Esther where the name of God is mentioned, The Prayer of Azariah, the Song of the Three Young Men, Susannah, Bel and the Dragon),

III. Wisdom texts (The Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, and Tobit),

IV. Materials related to Jeremiah (Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah), and

V. Jewish hero stories (Judith).

These texts come out of a challenging period in the life of Judaism—a period of challenge related to their identity as a people amidst forces that again seem likely to eliminate them. They trusted in the God of their ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and they moved forward with the daily challenges. The challenges to the community recorded in these books provide the set up for the world of the New Testament and our world. Along with the works of the Jewish historian Josephus, these books tells about a great deal about personal and community introspection at another challenging time in the history of Judaism. They not only survive; they thrive. From these texts, we, during this Lenten season, can profit from their faith, their wisdom, their ingenuity, and their determination to continue the covenant God made with their ancestors at Sinai. We also examine how accommodation became important for survival. We live in the shadow of their promise. For many, this is brand new material. The lectionary includes some of these selections. How do the testimonies of Judas Maccabeus, Sirach, Judith, and Tobit speak to us today?

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Week 1 (Canon, History, and Promise) [Intro and Tobit]
What exactly is the Apocrypha? Is it scripture? How is it of value to us now? Why is this not scripture according to the Jewish canon, but it is scripture according to Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians? How do Episcopalians consider these texts? What messages does Tobit suggest in terms of wisdom, history, and the afterlife?

Week 2 (History of a People) Readings from 1 and 2 Maccabees
History is always recorded from a particular perspective and for a particular reason in scripture. How do the writers of 1 and 2 Maccabees understand their place in history and God’s providence? Why is Hanukkah important? How does one defend one’s heritage in the midst of change from without and within? How do the perspectives of the Pharisees and Sadducees figure into the recording of history?

Week 3 (Wisdom for a New Day) Readings from The Wisdom of Solomon and Sirach
The books of Job, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs are often called “wisdom literature.” What do the books of Sirach and The Wisdom of Solomon add to the earlier understanding? Why is there so much attention to idolatry? Did Paul know these texts?

Week 4 (Judith, Susannah, and The Song of the Three Young Men)
The book of Judith has inspired many stories and considerable art. What does this story about heroic conflict through a female protagonist suggest about the need to defend one’s identity? How does she seem alike and different from Esther?

We are also looking at two extensions of the Old Testament book of Daniel. What important ideas surface in the book of Susannah about the nature of community and justice that are important to any religious individuals? How does the song of praise—also in the Book of Common Prayer for Morning Prayer I and II—of the three young men seem appropriate to praising God in the midst of circumstances that seem impossible?

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