In this fifth week of the series, we explore the story of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, following the return of exiles in Babylon. We take hope in small things, and in the promise of God's presence with us; and are challenged to be God's temple in our homes and communities.
Last spring, in our series “A Fresh Look at Scary Bible Stories,” we studied some challenging ancient texts that presented problematic views of God and of the world. By exploring how these stories have been interpreted through the ages, we were able to find in each of them the love of God shown in Jesus. This season, we continue to unpack popular Bible stories, but this time with a focus on texts that speak powerfully to the comfort and hope people have found in God in the midst of difficult circumstances. These ancient narratives express deeply felt human emotions—grief, guilt, fear and despair. They are real stories where justice is not always won, and pain does not magically disappear: unlike fairy tales, the characters do not necessarily “live happily ever after.” And yet in each one of them, God’s loving presence breaks through the darkness to bring hope and comfort to ordinary, seemingly insignificant people.
Throughout this series we will draw on artistic interpretations of the stories—identifying insights from painters, poets and musicians. We will also encourage one another to share our own stories of God “being there” in hard times. Together, we will celebrate the faithfulness of God to every generation. As the psalmist observed thousands of years ago: “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, God will help you catch your breath.” (Psalm 34:18, Message)