Union Avenue Christian Church is excited to once again host our Lenten Study Series shared between our Union Communion  congregations! This year there are four learning tracks:

 1) A Book study continuing the conversation on racism and white privilege using the book The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement (Beacon Press, 2016. ISBN: 978-080708360-4) by the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, a Disciples pastor in North Carolina and chair of the NAACP Legislative Political Action Committee who has been heralded as  this era’s Dr. King. As described by the publisher:

“The first Reconstruction briefly flourished after Emancipation, and the second Reconstruction ushered in meaningful progress in the civil rights era. But both were met by ferocious reactionary measures that severely curtailed, and in many cases rolled back, racial and economic progress.

This Third Reconstruction is a profoundly moral awakening of justice-loving people united in a fusion coalition powerful enough to reclaim the possibility of democracy—even in the face of corporate-financed extremism.

“In this memoir of how Rev. Barber and allies as diverse as progressive Christians, union members, and immigration-rights activists came together to build a coalition, he offers a trenchant analysis of race-based inequality and a hopeful message for a nation grappling with persistent racial and economic injustice.

Rev. Barber writes movingly—and pragmatically— about how he laid the groundwork for a state-by-state movement that unites black, white, and brown, rich and poor, employed and unemployed, gay and straight, documented and undocumented, religious and secular.

Only such a diverse fusion movement, Rev. Barber argues, can heal our nation’s wounds and produce public policy that is morally defensible, constitutionally consistent, and economically sane.”

Participants will need to obtain their own copy prior to the first session.

2)   A Bible study on the Passion story from the Gospel According to Mark.  As we prepare for the observance of Holy Week and the great celebration of Easter, this study will help us dive deeper into the events within and around Jerusalem. We will be using the commentary The Last Week by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan (HarperOne, 2007. ISBN: 9780060872601).

As described by the publisher:  Using the gospel of Mark as their guide, Borg and Crossan present a day-by-day account of Jesus’s final week of life. They begin their story on Palm Sunday with two triumphal entries into Jerusalem. The first entry, that of Roman governor Pontius Pilate leading Roman soldiers into the city, symbolized military strength. The second heralded a new kind of moral hero who was praised by the people as he rode in on a humble donkey.  The Jesus introduced by Borg and Crossan is this new moral hero, a more dangerous Jesus than the one enshrined in the church’s traditional teachings.

“The Last Week depicts Jesus giving up his life to protest power without justice and to condemn the rich who lack concern for the poor. In this vein, at the end of the week Jesus marches up Calvary, offering himself as a model for others to do the same when they are confronted by similar issues. Informed, challenged, and inspired, we not only meet the historical Jesus, but meet a new Jesus who engages us and invites us to follow him.”

Participants will need to obtain their own copy prior to the first session and bring a Bible.

3)   A visual arts study using Paul Smith’s collection Faces of Jesus (currently on display at Missouri Valley College). Through viewing a digital slideshow of the collection, this study will explore various depictions of Jesus in art across many centuries, cultures, and artists. This collection invites new ways to ponder the person of Christ and wrestle with our understandings of faith in ways that help us grow closer to God and to humanity.

4)   A cinematic study using the 2000 Miramax film Chocolat starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Moline, Lena Olin, and Johnny Depp. Set in a religiously staunch (and oppressed) French village, a young mother (Binoche) opens up a chocolaterie at the beginning of the 1959 Lenten season and runs into conflict with the ultra-pious and traditional town mayor. The film and discussion will explore the meaning of Lent, the nature of hospitality, the wisdom and renewal found in change, the love in accepting others, and the strength in becoming oneself through reflection and growth.

Participants are encouraged to volunteer to bring a personal favorite food that uses chocolate for a shared tasting, and to bring a Bible for reference and discussion.

The study series will be on Wednesday evenings in Lent beginning  February 21 with a gathering at 5:30 p.m., a pot-luck dinner starting 5:45 p.m., and sessions ending around 7:00 p.m.

Please RSVP to the Union Avenue church office by email (info@union-avenue.org) or telephone  (314) 361-8844.

Hope to see you soon!