The Good Book Club | Week of January 26
This week: John 7:1—9:34

We encounter some recurring themes this week. First, we see another bout of geographic classicism. By that, I mean, we keep hearing people ridicule Jesus’ roots: Born in Bethlehem, that little blink-and-you-miss-it town? A prophet from Podunk Nazareth? Unlikely. While Jesus is known in the countryside for his works of turning water into wine, healing a royal official’s son, feeding of the 5,000, his brothers insist that it’s time to move from the honky-tonk stage to the Grand Ole Opry. They urge him to go to Jerusalem for one of the big religious festivals and show his signs to the big-city folk.

But Jesus—understatement alert—is not one to be peer pressured. He will go to the festival in God’s time, not the time prescribed by man but rather when the opportunity for his witness is at its height.

A few days into the festival, Jesus arrives and is met with a range of reactions: from bemused tolerance of a country yokel to outright hatred by some of the religious leaders. They question: Is he simply a good man, a prophet, a deluded madman, a seducer? He is the Christ, but most do not have the ears to hear this astounding news. Only Nicodemus offers a defense for Jesus. We end chapter seven with the same old saw: “You will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.”

In chapter eight, we encounter another common theme: The religious leaders try to trip Jesus up on the letter of the law. They present a woman caught in the unlawful act of adultery (side note: where was the adulterer partner in this story?) and ask Jesus about her punishment. After all, even Moses was clear that death by stoning was the punishment for adultery. Lesser men would fail at this legal and linguistic challenge but Jesus is, obviously, not your ordinary man. He counters, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” As the kids might say, Jesus’ response is pretty lit.

And speaking of light…in the next verse, we encounter another of John’s classics: Jesus proclaims, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Jesus continues on for several verses, trying to explain what he means and who he is. His speech convicts many who come to believe in him, but others can’t or won’t see the light and they decide to cast some stones at him. Jesus ducks out and heads to the temple.

In the final chapter for the week, we’re back to the same tune on another broken record: the issue of Jesus healing on the sabbath. And not only are the religious leaders mad about the broken sabbath laws, but also they’re perplexed about exactly how Jesus healed a blind man with a mixture or mud and saliva. Repeatedly they ask a variant of, “How did he open your eyes?”

It’s a question we face today as we consider our own blindness. Will we open our eyes to see the Christ? Will we invite the healing power of Christ into our lives so we might see anew the Light?
Read Week 1 , Week 2, Week 3

1. Have you ever felt judged because of your hometown or background? Have you ever judged another simply because of their address? What lessons can we learn from this recurring theme?

2. Do you struggle with discerning the difference between your timeline and God’s? What spiritual practices can you adopt to help you with this?

3. What are some of your blind spots: in your relationship with God, with others, with yourself? As Jesus asked the man earlier in the Gospel of John, do you want to be made well?
 Partner Spotlight

Calling all artists, doodlers, and those in between: Follow the Star with this coloring sheet provided by the evangelism team of the Episcopal Church. Share your creations on the Episcopal Church’s Facebook page and the Good Book Club . Wanna share the love? Invite your congregation to read the Good Book and break out their Crayolas with weekly bulletin inserts that feature cartoons by artist and Episcopal priest Jay Sidebotham, director of RenewalWorks, a ministry of Forward Movement. RenewalWorks helps churches and individuals refocus on spiritual growth and identify ways that God is calling them to grow.

Speaking of growth, hundreds gathered (virtually) earlier this month for a webinar hosted by a new Good Book Club partner, the Montreal Diocesan Theological College in the Anglican Church of Canada. Writes Jesse Zink, principal of the college: “It was a great privilege to gather with several hundred people from around the United States and Canada to walk through some of the basic elements and key themes of the Gospel of John. John is a gospel of such beauty and such depth that we could only scratch the surface but I hope that our webinar helps people in the Good Book Club listen for the call of Christ in the gospel in new ways.” If you missed the live version, never fear. Check out the webinar and slides .
Participant spotlight

Speaking of Canada, we received a note from our neighbors to the north. The Rev. Canon Kevin Bothwell, rector of St. Thomas’ Church in Ontario writes: “We are doing the Good Book Club as a parish project. Many of my sermons will be about John and not about the lectionary readings. My hope is that this will help build an enthusiastic response over the weeks and peak interest beyond a reading and study group session. Because I was on holiday at the beginning of January, we are exactly two weeks behind the published schedule, so I simply published adjusted dates. That will take us into the first couple of weeks of Lent. Such is life!”

If you’re just getting started or catching up on readings, have no worries! The Good Book Club is a choose-your-own adventure type of program: You decide what works for you. Several of our partners have some amazing studies that might be just what you are seeking.

Go With Gratitude: A Reflection Guide for The Gospel of John. This  downloadable booklet  from the  United Thank Offering (UTO)  shares weekly reflections and questions for discussion or personal reflection written by UTO Grant Recipients. UTO invites all Episcopalians to participate in a personal spiritual discipline of gratitude and the giving of thank offerings in a UTO Blue Box. Each year, UTO collects thank offerings made and grants every penny donated to support innovative mission and ministry in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

Episcopal Migration Ministries  is offering a seven-session  Bible study . Each lesson includes a prayer, a group Bible study with discussion/reflection questions, and an Episcopal Migration Ministries “Teaching” in audio or video form. Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) lives the call of welcome by supporting refugees, immigrants, and the communities that embrace them as they walk together in the Episcopal Church’s movement to create loving, liberating, and life-giving relationships rooted in compassion. EMM’s desire to honor the inherent value of human connection brings communities together to love their neighbors as themselves.

How are you participating in the Good Book Club? Share your story with us (and send pictures too, if you have them!). We’ll highlight participants from across the church. Send the information to Richelle at .
Let’s learn from and be inspired by each other!