In our Life after Failure series, we tackle Gideon (Judges 6-8). There are a few well-known stories in these chapters, but what we’ll focus on is the way the story finishes. To run a great race for God is one thing. Ending well is quite another. Gideon didn’t quite manage.
The Exodus was the defining event that gave Israel a national identity. They understood God as the One who breaks every chain, and that is still how we understand him today; there is substantial Exodus-imagery in the New Testament and we explore some of that too.
Reflecting on the story of the calling of young Samuel (perhaps 11 years old) we consider the ways in which can open ourselves up to hear God speak: in prayer, in the bible, and in the church community.
\'Neither do I condemn you.\' Jesus meets the woman caught in adultery with a grace she didn't deserve (none of us does). \'Now go, and leave your life of sin.\' We often feel like we need to choose between grace and holiness, but for Jesus there never is any tension between the two. He sets us free, free to start afresh for his glory.
In the evening service, we will spend some time looking at a number of biblical characters who faced failure and pain. Where was God? What happens next? This instalment focuses on the figure of Samson, who was given one last feat of strength.
In creation, God made everything good. That is no longer quite the world we live in. Our souls long for the original goodness, and try to recapture it in all sorts of ways - but the only place where we can find it is in the good God himself.
In the account of Peter's preaching in Acts and the subsequent response, we do see both how people come to faith, and also how that faith is sustained in community - great themes to explore in a baptism service.
Sometimes when we pray, it seems that our prayer doesn't make it past the ceiling. What do we make of that experience? Is God ever absent? We reflect on these questions with the help of Jesus' teaching on the unexpected guest and the grumpy friend.
Jonah is not particularly pleased that Nineveh is saved, but God says: \'should I not have concern?\' This links us straight to the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15, and God's concern that the gospel goes out to a lost world today.