Getting started. The Bible is the place we begin. Some courses begin with our experience. Some begin with literature in which we can see what the author “might be getting at” and then use that as a starting point for our journey. Other courses begin with a grand sweep of sacred writings, helping us to see what we are going to consider in the Bible as a genre. But we are going to begin with the Bible. (Some of the other approaches, worthy as they are, are going to come later).
When Is The First Course?
The “Seekers Course” which we offer begins on February 8. If you are planning to enroll, or if you are going to introduce the Christian faith to someone through the “Seekers Course”, it is not too early to get familiar with the material we are going to use. And if this is your first time — as a student or as a mentor or guide — you will want to begin to get familiar with the material. In fact, I realized as soon as I first began reviewing this material for the course that I needed some time to get accustomed to the presentation. It is as if the presenter is a master at his ministry (urban ministry) but some of the aspects of urban ministry haven’t “grown on me” yet. But they will. Just don’t turn it off because you are not a fan of the music which introduces the course or of the style of the teacher.
What Can I Expect?
For starters, you can expect to be surprised. Let me give an example: We like art. There are just a few artists whose works we have collected and have hanging in our home. Naturally there is only so much room, so it is not as if our house has any museum-like character. But what we collect has meaning to us, and we — in most cases — know (have met and had conversation with) the artist. One is James Coleman, whose original painting on black paper was irresistible. He is an official artist for “Disney” but this painting, of a ship (which is reminiscent of the “Jolly Roger” of Peter Pan) is not an “official” Disney painting; therefore, it has no Disney logos or characters or theme. But it has a mast, and in the light of the moon the mast glows as a cross, lighting the entire scene, and shining forth as the “Light of the World.”
(A page from a popular coffee-table book. Pause for a moment and imagine the era).
But some people don’t like our taste in art. And there are those a bit more purist than we who prefer that all fine art be mounted or framed and displayed on the wall with just the right kind of light. And I admit: presentation is very important. But to me it is not essential to appreciation. Some very beautiful things are not even visual art; they are musical or literary. And some art need not be displayed in order to be appreciated; it can actually be a part of a collection presented in a book — we call them “coffee table books.”
We received a “coffee table” book from another favorite artist this week: Rob Kaz. Actually we each received a book — Jocelyn’s has a color original painting inside, mine a black and white sketch. But every book published includes a copy of an original work of art which Jocelyn gave to me a couple of years ago for our anniversary. And because the piece is so special to us, I wrote a few words of appreciation for this piece and for Rob Kaz as an artist — and that is also included in the book. I exclaimed “I am a published author.” (All of this was done because Jocelyn was a benefactor when the artist was raising funds to get the project off the ground. And it is an amazing project, especially for those of us who love his paintings.)
What Does Art Have to Do with It?
Another book, much more widely known, but with our stories just as conspicuous within its covers, is the Bible. The instructor in the “Seekers Course” describes the Bible as “God’s love letter to us.” (Ironically, the art I mentioned included in the Rob Kaz book is a picture of an old oak tree in which our initials are carved, within a heart, and lightning bugs — 15 of them for our 15 years, at the time — all around). It is a kind of permanent love letter; but not nearly so permanent, and not nearly so profound, as the Love of God, as contained in the Bible.
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell.
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.
The “Seekers Course” drives this Truth home: God loved us so much that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is the centerpiece of the story of God’s gracious plan, conceived before the foundations of the world, acted out through the stories of a people whose lives and struggles and pleasures and pains mirror our own lives. We find ourselves in the pages; but more importantly, we find God. That the why we are offering this course.
How Is The Course Presented?
There are six units, each consisting of 6-10 lectures, each lecture lasting about five minutes. There are six course meetings (see http://www.zoominary.com) and in these meetings we will share our discoveries, our questions, and our responses to the lessons and to the Bible story. Here is a brief outline of the course…remember, it begins in less than four weeks:
- the Christian Faith (discussion on 2/15 –date of first class meeting)
- the Existence of God (discussion on 2/22
- the Incarnation–Jesus Christ (discussion on 3/1)
- the Choice: Christ or Religion (discussion on 3/8)
- the Bible (discussion on 3/15)
- the Resurrection of Jesus (discussion on on 3/22)
OK. What’s It Going To Require of Me?
Anyone interested in the “Seekers Course” (again, as a student, as a seeker, or as a mentor or guide) is asked to contact Dr. Bob Harris as soon as possible to enroll. All lectures and materials are free, but there is a $12.00 per seeker or student enrollment fee (there is one seat available for free for each seeker’s mentor or guide — and that person needs to be selected soon — or that person needs to select a seeker).
Bob Harris is easy to reach – Eastern Standard Time (best between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.) at 770-815-9078. Or email at firstname.lastname@example.org This course is available on any device — wi-fi connection recommended but “Zoom” (for http://www.zoominary.com) can be accessed by audio with video on a computer or tablet, or by telephone voice only on your smart-phone or even landline.
Sponsored by The Disciples College and the Mission for Biblical Literacy, Athens, GA, USA