828 King's Highway, Suffolk VA 23432

757 255-4168 stjohns1755@verizon.net Worship Service: Sundays at 10:30am
Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christian Formation for Sunday January 13 - Isaiah 43:1-7; Restoration and Protection Promised

January 13, 2013 – 1 Epiphany
Isaiah 43:1-7
Restoration and Protection Promised
Background: This passage from Isaiah is located in the section commonly referred to in academic circles as Second Isaiah (Chapters 40-55). Within Second Isaiah there are recurring themes which help place the composition sometime after Cyrus II defeated portions of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Most likely, Second Isaiah was composed before the exiles returned from Babylon
Theme: In general, Second Isaiah is focused on restoration for those in exile in Babylon. The passage recalls imagery of deliverance through water and fire – two of the elemental properties of creation. In addition, the passage may have been written to promise God’s (יהוה) protection for the exiles and the remnant still in Israel. We also see the recurrence of the theme of the exiles being returned from the corners of the earth.
Questions to Ponder
* Please read Isaiah 43:1-7.
* Briefly identify the setting for this passage: what is the social, political, and religious landscape in Israel that shapes this passage.
* In your own words, describe the theme of this portion of the Prophet Isaiah.
* Why might Isaiah say “he [the Lord (יהוה)] who created you, O Jacob, he [the Lord (יהוה)] who formed you Israel”? Especially considering both names refer to the same person.
* For what reason would it be comforting or reassuring for God to call the people of Israel by name? How would being called by name by God be a sign of “ownership” or connection?
* In the first half of verse 2 Isaiah makes reference to passing through the waters… and through the river; what do those references mean to you? How are those images instrumental in Israel’s collective memory?
* In the second half of verse 2 there is reference to walking through fire and not being burned or consumed. What other portion of the Old Testament is this passage reminiscent of? What might be the underlying message in the story of passing through the fire?
* What might the significance be of the three nations named in verse 3, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba? What connection might there be between the one who delivers Israel and those nations?
* When Isaiah tells that the people of Israel will be called from the east and west, north and south, what groups of the chosen ones of God might he be referring to?
* How do you think this passage was good news for the exiles in Babylon, especially considering they were most likely still in exile when they heard it?
* How do you think the Israelites were encouraged to remember God’s faithfulness across time?
* What is the good news for Christians from this passage?
* How do we apply this message to our lives of faith in our current time and place?

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