Learning@Redeemer Archive - Bible Study Events
Telling the Story 2007 (The Gospel Tellers)
Colossians Remixed (November 2005)
St. Paul's letter to the Colossians was an explosive tract in the context of the Roman empire. It is no less explosive today, calling the Christian community to follow Jesus as Lord in the face of contemporary alternatives. Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat, former Redeemerites, led a workshop to explore how this ancient biblical text shapes our social, ecological, and political lives, based on their recent book, Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire.
Through hymns and prayers, John Campbell, Director of Music, explored the themes of Advent as presented in the 2005 lectionary readings. Past and present choir pieces and congregational song written specifically for the season guided discussion. John considered what the composers may have been thinking and reflecting upon when they created the familiar and not so familiar music that we sang and heard as we watched and waited through Advent.
Jesus taught the disciples how to pray with words that are familiar to all Christians. John Campbell, Director of Music, examined the text of the Lord's Prayer and the many musical settings that have been composed for this beloved prayer. From simple plainsong to Stravinsky, this particular prayer has the power to stir emotions and promote an awareness of faith. John recalled congregational settings that have been used at the Church of the Redeemer and looked forward to ones that may be used in the future.
In this two-part series, Ann Jervis, Honorary Assistant Priest and Professor of New Testament, Wycliffe and Trinity Colleges, University of Toronto, offered a glimpse into the book she was completing, which was published by Eerdmans in 2006. In the first session Ann discussed what some of Paul's letters say about the suffering that is particular to believers in Jesus Christ, and the suffering experienced by humanity that does not know Jesus.
In the second session Ann asked how Paul's words might be relevant to our life of faith.
Bible Study, led by Dr. Abigail Young, addressed a single compelling theme inspired by the 2006 and 2009 Lenten lectionary. Over five evenings, Abigail examined the three Old Testament covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses as well as the promise of a new covenant in Jeremiah. Then the focus shifted to the New Testament for an examination of the fulfilment of that promise.
This series was part of an ongoing study group led by Abigail, who holds a Ph.D. in the history of Biblical interpretation. To read the text of Dr. Young's remarks, please click here.
The Gospel of Mark is the earliest of the canonical gospels. Its simple and direct telling of the story of Jesus is a call to follow him on the hard road to the cross and an invitation to receive the mystery of God's kingdom.
During the first of four sessions, Ann Jervis, Honorary Assistant Priest and Professor of New Testament, Wycliffe and Trinity Colleges, University of Toronto, introduced the major themes in the Gospel of Mark. Joanne Davies, Chaplain at Mount Sinai Hospital, and Peter Dale, graduate from the Institute of Christian Studies, World View Studies Program, followed with three sessions that took an in-depth look at the 2006 lectionary readings from Mark.
The journey is a common metaphor for life and especially for the spiritual life. Lent is a good time to focus on our own spiritual journey, so what better vehicle than the Gospel of Luke, our gospel for 2007? Luke devotes the core of his gospel to the encounters and teachings of Jesus' last journey, the trip up to Jerusalem, his passion, and his death.
Dr. Abigail Young generously opened up her Bible study group for this special Lenten course. She looked at the parables and incidents along the way.
Dr. Young is a Redeemer treasure. She has offered a Bible Study group for the last 20 years and is well qualified. She took a licentiate at the Pontifical Institute in mediaeval theology and a PhD at the University of Toronto in mediaeval studies, and concentrated on the history of biblical exegesis in both programs.
The Gospel readings in Lent were all taken from the first part of the Gospel of John, known as the Book of Signs, and included 2 of the 7 signs by which the evangelist made Jesus known. Dr. Abigail Young led the discussions.
The first session introduced John's Gospel and the themes of the Lenten Gospels. Each of the four following gatherings discussed the gospel reading for the previous Sunday:
To read the text of Dr. Young's remarks, please click here.
Lent starts with fire. Ashes are a sign of our mortality. But might they whisper much more about the ways we burn with restlessness, and long for connection with other people and a place to call home? Andrew Federle led discussions on the following topics:
"This is a vision shown by the goodness of God to a devout woman, and her name is Julian, that is recluse at Norwich and is still living, Anno Domini 1413..."
So begins a scribe’s introduction to Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love, one of the most remarkable classics of Christian spirituality. Particularly beloved by many feminist Christians, Julian’s work also figures significantly in the revisionist theology of contemporary writers like Matthew Fox.
How is it that this medieval woman can still address us so powerfully today? Professor Anne Savage, a scholar of medieval women’s religious writing in the Department of English at McMaster University, observes, "Julian's certainty of the love of her maker is rooted in the physical and mental suffering which cannot be avoided by human beings. Her own experience as a woman apparently dying in pain, and then for years as a recluse meditating on the paradox, clarify how this is possible."
On Tuesday, May 13, 2008, the 635th anniversary of Julian’s revelation, we heard that voice for ourselves. Professor Savage and Dr. Elaine Ramshaw, a Lutheran pastoral theologian, briefly introduced Julian’s work. Then, with a brief intermission halfway through, and a final meditative hymn, a group of some dozen readers organized by David Townsend presented the Short Text, Julian’s original witness to a luminous vision of the redemption of suffering by a Love that, in her best-known words, "shall make all things well."
The Psalms have appealed to people throughout the ages and have been used in both Jewish and Christian liturgy. The individual and community laments are cries from the heart of the believer, and very often the lament ends with assurance that God will help.
The Psalms are the longest book in the Bible, comprising 150 Psalms, some laments, some hymns of praise, Wisdom psalms, Royal psalms, songs of ascent and hymns of thanksgiving.
Mary Nichols and Cherith Muir led a Bible Study on the Psalms. Mary said: “The plan is to read the psalms, identify them, talk about their origin and possible authorship, and discuss ways in which they can be used in liturgy and in personal prayer. We will divide the Psalms into three parts, looking at 50 of them in each session, not reading all, but identifying their themes. The best-known psalm is probably the 23rd: “The Lord is my Shepherd, therefore shall I lack nothing.”
Cherith Muir and Mary Nichols offered a summer bible study on five major themes in the book of Genesis. Each session focused on chapters related to one or more of the themes. Participants were encouraged to read and engage with the text and to discuss how these themes informed the earliest relationships between God and humankind. Participants considered what implications these texts had for our life of faith as Christians.
Over three sessions Cherith and Mary explored:
U2 played Toronto in September 2009 and Church of the Redeemer got ready. U2's No Line on the Horizon, abounds with biblical references. Andrew Asbil revealed links between these song texts and the bible. Guitarist Mike Daley explained how the U2 sound is built and deconstructed the musicology behind their layered approach. Mike's band played favourite tracks from this U2 collection.
Our Incumbent, Andrew Asbil, was interviewed by The Toronto Star about this event. The article is available here.
What can Christians learn from the Dead Sea Scrolls? British Scholar Dr. George Brooke provided a general introduction to the scrolls, but spoke especially on the great Cave 11 Qumran Psalms scroll, part of which was on display at the Royal Ontario Museum during November 2009. He also related most of the other scrolls then on exhibit to the New Testament.
Abigail Young, a long time member of Redeemer and biblical scholar, generously offered to open her Monday evening Bible Study during Lent to welcome participants who were interested in small group discussion. The focus in Lent 2010 was on a study of the Servant Songs in Isaiah, or at least the ones that were the Old Testament readings for Holy Week.
Carol Stoddart and Mary Nichols co-led a small group Bible Study on the theme of “Women in the Old Testament”. The study examined the exploits and accomplishments of some remarkable matriarchs. Their stories are full of suspense, courage, doubt and daring. In these four sessions we focused on Sarai/Sarah, Miriam, Hannah and Deborah.
She was an unmarried mother.
She won an argument with Jesus.
She crashed a dinner party to anoint Him and scandalized the guests with her behaviour.
She mistook Him for the gardener but became a first witness and emissary of His resurrection.
The study, co-led by Carol Stoddart and Cherith Muir, attempted to answer the question "Who were these women?".
On four Wednesdays in May 2011, Carol Stoddart and Cherith Muir offered Bible study on the topic of "Into the Wilderness: Exiles and Desert Wanderings".
Andrew Asbil led us in reflecting on the writings of the prophet Jeremiah. Jean Bubba was our lector. We gathered over supper on the main floor as readings, reflections, discussion, music and food were woven together throughout the evening.
Sailing in the Mediterranean...Hiking across Cyprus...Along the Roman roads of Anatolia. No, this is not your dream vacation but an examination of St. Paul's journeys 2,000 years ago. Cherith Muir and Carol Stoddart led our exploration on four Thursday evenings in May, 2012.
Ezekiel, whose name means “God strengthens”, was of priestly lineage and deported to Babylon during the Exile. Andrew Asbil, Incumbent, led us in reflecting on his writings, and Jean Bubba was our lector. We gathered over supper on the main floor as readings, reflections, discussion, music and food were woven together throughout the evening.
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