We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
And this means that every week, as we turn the page to another book/chapter in the whole story, we do so (I hope) with a childlike curiosity, wondering, anticipating….How will this book (or ‘chapter’, if you will) contribute to the overall story? How will it move it along, explain it, and make sense of it?
And we know the story isn’t over—we look around us and see that history keeps marching on, the future out in front of us—God is still speaking, still storytelling. And just like the characters we read about in the story in the Bible, we know that we are characters in his continuing drama. Which means there is a connection between us and between them, no matter how long it has been since they were on this same earth that we inhabit. And that their stories must mean something for our story, and the ones who will come after us, for God is connecting it and weaving it all together.
And so this past week—on a Monday morning, if you were like me—we turned the page, from Ezra-Nehemiah, and at the top there in bold, large letters we saw a name…
Many of us are familiar enough with this story to at least wonder…how will a “chapter” in the Whole Story that doesn’t even mention or allude to the name of God possibly move God’s story forward? What will Esther’s story mean for our story? And above all, we need to ask, “How in the world will this lead us to Jesus!?”
Those are big questions, important questions. Frankly, it won’t be easy to jump into a story that is very tightly told and incredibly complex and answer those questions and apply it to our lives, all in about a 35 sermon. Which makes me realize how much I, as the preacher/storyteller, and you as the listener, need God’s help. So let’s ask him for it. Would you pray with me right now, wherever you are reading this?
We’ve arrived at a book that many of us are familiar with. We’ve heard this story before, in countless Sunday School lessons, and vacation bible schools, and we’ve even seen movies interpreting and depicting it. But I wonder if we’ve understood it rightly. Please give us eyes to see things here that maybe we haven’t seen before. Make us open to the possibility of that. Show us through this story the way of Jesus. Awaken us to our identity in him, so that we may know how you want us to live in a world and culture that seems to have gone mad.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
I invite you now to watch or listen to the sermon on Esther. And if you’d like to study the book further, I commend the Esther page over at the Bible Project. In addition, they have a great companion resource page on the Biblical theme of Exile—check it out as well.
I had a class on preaching once, many years ago, from a pastor and a professor. And here is what he argued was the key question the preacher must ask of every text of Scripture:
2 Corinthians and The Whole Story
The reason that we began the Whole Story sermon series in January of last year was for the simple reason that we wanted to inspire you to read the Bible.
In the unsearchable counsel of God's will for the world, he has so designed that salvation will come through the church, that body of people gathered by the power of his Holy Spirit.
Why Should I Read The Bible?
Most days I love waking up, coffeeing up, praying up, and then gobbling up the Bible. But not every day. I’m just like you in that. I need reminding about why the Bible — God’s Whole Story — is an important part of my day, for every other part of my day.
One of the dangers of reading the stories of those followers of Jesus that we find in the Bible is we can treat them as if they are almost super-human.
Martin Luther warned that the people of the church are always in danger of their hearts straying from the truth of the good news of the kingdom of God found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The Whole Story
On Sunday, January 7th, we will begin a year and a half exploration of the whole story of the whole Bible...
1 Corinthians (part two)
This last Sunday in our Gathering, we studied the book of 1 Corinthians together. The week of preparation leading up to that moment in the pulpit was deeply encouraging, as I sat at the feet of Paul, and watched him apply the reality of Jesus and the fullness of the Good News to four main issues in the lives of Christians in the church at Corinth. I discovered that each issue was a case study in the application of the good news to the very practical matters of our lives.