Published April 2014
This Covenant experience will guide participants in a comprehensive, in-depth study of the Bible over twenty-four weeks. Unlike the learning participants may have experienced in other groups, this in-depth study of the whole Bible emphasizes the biblical concept of covenant as a unifying pattern through all the books in the Old and New Testaments. It underscores the unique relationship that God chooses to have with us as God’s people. This relationship is grounded in the faithfulness of God’s love and on our ongoing commitment to stay in love with God while we share signs of that love with others.
Each episode connects to an aspect of this covenant relationship, which is summarized in the heading of each participant guide.
GOD ESTABLISHES THE COVENANT to be in relationship with us. So the first eight weeks, Creating the Covenant, examines how the covenant community is created and established—highlighting several examples throughout scripture.
It discusses the story of our origins in Genesis, the Exodus narrative, the teachings of Moses, the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, as well as other books from each Testament that focus on the foundation of Christian faith.
In doing so, it lays out the framework for a life lived in concert with God and others.
Each participant in the group needs the Participant Guides and a Bible. The CEB Study Bible is preferred.
The Creating Participant Guide is eight weeks long, and has a lay flat binding making it easy to take notes in the generous space provided on each page.
The Creating Participant Guide contains the following episodes:
Episode 1: Creating the Covenant
Relationships with people in our lives are key to faithful living. Covenant is about the family God creates and the power of love that overcomes evil. We are broken and miss the mark. Substitutes for faithful love destroy our relationships. Yet God’s response to broken relationships is to restore us to wholeness. Through the shared practice of reading and interpreting the Bible scripture in holy conversation, we sharpen our understandings until they become more accurate and relevant. And we learn about God’s gracious love and how to share it with others.
Episode 2: Torah—Genesis
Genesis answers the question: Who are we in the scheme of things? Covenant relationships are a metaphor for life together before God. This life is characterized by both gift and responsibility. Broken relationships in these stories are countered by forgiveness and generosity.
Episode 3: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers
Passover is a bittersweet celebration of Israel’s liberation. The covenant at Sinai creates a people with instructions for living in harmony. These instructions are ever in need of reinterpretation in new situations, much like amendments to a constitution. God is holy and calls the people to be distinct and set apart in their faithfulness.
Episode 4: Gospels—Matthew and Mark
The Gospels are similar to Greco-Roman biographies but with a saving twist. They paint a portrait of Jesus’ significance for first-century readers living under Roman rule before and after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE. By arranging the events of his life, death, and resurrection in distinct order, these writers depict Jesus as both the suffering “human one” (Mark) and a new teacher like Moses (Matthew). Jesus comes to bring and embody a new covenant reign (kingdom) of God’s saving love in the world.
Episode 5: Romans and Galatians
The letters of Paul substituted for his presence and represent his attempt to deal with controversies and provide guidance to churches from a pastor’s perspective. For Paul, God’s grace expressed in Jesus’ faithfulness on the cross is a saving gift with no substitutes. The Spirit’s presence, too, is a gift that marks the community of faith and produces fruit for faithful life together, making us more gracious to ourselves and others.
Episode 6: Hebrews
The book of Hebrews is a masterful sermon written by an unknown author to a struggling community.The writer encourages them to live lives of gratitude for God’s saving work in Jesus. Hebrews embraces the imagery of sacrifice in the Old Testament to describe Jesus’ pioneering cosmic work of redemption. Replacing fear with trust, Jesus—our faithful forerunner—made it possible for us to approach the holy with confident expectation of God’s favor.
Episode 7: 1 and 2 Corinthians
Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth address very concrete issues in a culture that honors the freedom of superiors to do as they please. Paul counters this with the mind of Christ, patterned by the logic of self-giving love. This “logic of the cross” balances freedom with Christ-shaped responsibility to live in ways that benefit both self and community.
Episode 8: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel
These books retell the story of Israel and its responsibilities as a rescued, covenant people. As they transition to a new life in the promised land, the first commandment (no other gods) is restated positively: love God with all your heart and strength. Life in the land after Moses and Joshua is characterized by a cycle of faithlessness, crisis, cries for help, and temporary rescue. The last tribal chieftain/first prophet Samuel will anoint kings for an unruly people when the real king missing in Israel is God.
More Questions? Visit http://covenantbiblestudy.com/ for more information.