eNewsletter Feature Story – Week of April 25 –May 1, 2021

This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Rev. Raymond Hylton,
FPCE senior pastor.

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:19-20

Confession: I get serious butterflies in my stomach every single time I am about to begin teaching or preaching. That being said, Jesus places the command on all of his disciples to “Preach, teach, and make disciples” in his name (see Matthew 28, known as the Great Commission). Perhaps those butterflies are more attuned and receptive to the glorious power of the Commission than is the rest of me, at least at the get-go.

No, I would not call myself a natural teacher. When I was growing up, being a teacher was never on the horizon for what I might plan to do with my life. Clearly, God had other plans. As Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Stewardship, one thing that I am dedicated to ensuring is that our church offers first rate adult education opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds. So I am thankful for all the wisdom, knowledge, and pedagogic talent that surrounds, supports and ups my game here at First Pres.

Since arriving here, I have had the great privilege of teaching classes on themes as varied as the Gospel of Mark, an introduction to the theology of Karl Barth, The Sermon on the Mount, the roots and vital importance of biblical understandings of Stewardship, as well as leading book discussions on important contemporary works such as Esau McCaulley’s Reading While Black and Michael Sandel’s The Tyranny of Merit, among other titles and topics. And that’s just me — I quickly discovered what fantastic teachers we have in our congregation, and we’ve been blessed to bring in outside experts when appropriate. Surely I am blessed that I get to work alongside people of such great God-given talent and inspired faith.

As the COVID crisis eases, and we shift back into in-person worship and education in our church building, please be on the lookout for upcoming adult education opportunities that we will be offering face-to-face, via Zoom, and through a hybrid of in-person and Zoom. Thanks to the miracles of today’s technologies, we are hoping to offer our adult education classes online for anyone who might want to join in from wherever they might be in the world. (If we look for God’s blessings even in our darker hours, you don’t have to look much farther than international outreach for our church and Sunday School.)

If you yourself think you might like to teach an adult education class at First Pres, reach out to me and let’s talk about it and see what we can make happen!

I’m teaching through Galatians right now, and, if you are reading this newsletter, you’re invited to join via Zoom, 11:30am CDT. Don’t worry that you’ve missed the first couple of classes, you’ll get caught up to speed in no time. Teaching Galatians is such a thrill, and, frankly, is the most excited I’ve been about teaching since I got here.

Why? Because Galatians is radical. It is unlike any other letter that Paul wrote. I’ve always considered myself more an expert in the Gospels, so the opportunity to delve deep into Paul’s Christology is exciting in and of itself, but Galatians is something else entirely. Here is Paul unlike anywhere else in the New Testament; uncensored, impassioned, enraged, in dire fear for the souls of his beloved churches in Galatia. Paul preaches Christ and him crucified, and sees the event of the Crucifixion as the singular moment when God has invaded the world to snatch us out of the present evil age. Such that the life we live, even today, is the life that Jesus offers us, Jesus who loves us and gave himself for us. Yet why is the Apostle Paul so fiercely impassioned? For the church in Galatia — for us, today?

To learn more about that, you’re just going to have to join my class. So, won’t you? Hope to see you there!

Pastor Henry

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