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Tying Up Loose Threads: A Series Wrap-Up




By Brandon Lemons

 

On Sunday, we completed the Threads sermon series.  For eight weeks, we journeyed from Genesis to Revelation…every Sunday!  Each sermon was an epic journey, tracing a theme as it twisted and turned through Scripture, across thousands of years of biblical terrain.  We’d finish the journey one week, and then return the next week to the same starting point (Genesis) and embark on a journey to the same destination (Revelation), via a different path than the week before.  Some weeks, the paths overlapped, such as how we encountered 1 Peter 2:9 for each of the first three themes (light, kingdom, exile). 

 

A Strenuous Series!

 

If it sounds strenuous to travel from Genesis to Revelation every Sunday, that’s because it was!  At least it felt that way for me and for Carol Boehle.  A huge “thank you” to Carol for faithfully preparing the slides that are shown on the screen and livestream each week.  She has been doing this on a weekly basis for several years.  However, it was a huge task during the Threads series, as each sermon had 70-90 slides (3-4 times more than usual), with some having different settings depending on what we wanted to show on the livestream.  I know Carol enjoys behind-the-scenes work like this, and she certainly went over and above during the Threads series!

 

Threads was the most strenuous sermon series I’ve prepared during my 15 years of pastoring.  Identifying the relevant Bible passages for each theme wasn’t difficult, but determining which passages to include in the limited timeframe of each sermon was challenging.  If you picture this series as a journey up a mountain, there were many “scenic overlooks” I wanted to stop at, but we didn’t have time to stop at them all.  I had to choose which to prioritize and make the difficult decisions of which to drive past.  (This meant there was a lot of “cutting” late in the week to help the sermon be a reasonable length.)  I truly and deeply enjoyed this series; yet I think that for me and Carol, there is a sense of relief now that it’s over.

 

I know Threads was also strenuous for the congregation.  It required major mental focus to follow along, because each sermon moved fast!  There weren’t many opportunities to slow down and catch our breath.  Stories, humor, and clear application points were more sparse than usual.

 

Enjoying Scripture

 

Although this series was strenuous, I believe it was well worth it!  I heard so many positive comments – even from people who rarely (if ever) comment on a sermon – about how it helped the Bible make sense in new ways, and how it inspired in them a new enjoyment of Scripture.  Threads revealed beauty and unity in the biblical storyline that are easily missed when we dig into individual passages.  My prayer is that this series will help Scripture come alive for all of us as we read it on our own or hear it taught, and that the themes we traced will provide “metaphorical coat hooks” on which to hang the individual verses and passages we encounter in the future.

 

Studying “Threads” On Your Own

 

A couple people asked me what resources would enable them to study Scripture the way we did in this series.  Unfortunately, I’m not aware of easy-to-read books that trace a variety of biblical themes the way we have done in this series.  I will, however, share three resources for those who want to go deeper.

 

·       The “New Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Exploring the Unity & Diversity of Scripture” (edited by Brian Rosner, Desmond Alexander, Graeme Goldsworthy, and D.A. Carson) is one of the main resources I used for researching this series.  Every theme we traced (plus many more) is covered in this resource.  It is a reference book (like an encyclopedia), but for students of Scripture, it is valuable, unique, and relatively easy to read.

 

·       A “concordance” is also useful.  A concordance locates every instance of a word in the Bible.  I used www.biblegateway.com; if you type your keyword into the site’s search bar, it will give you every instance of that word in Scripture, in a user-friendly format.  This isn’t foolproof for tracing themes, because some themes don’t often use the word you may have in mind (for instance, many of the topics/passages I referenced in the “exile” sermon can’t be found by searching “exile” in a concordance).   But in this series, I used the concordance feature on biblegateway.com to get the “lay of the land” for all the themes we traced through Scripture.

 

·       Finally, I recommend materials published by an organization called “Bible Project” (www.bibleproject.com).  Their purpose is to “help people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.”  Bible Project has a podcast, but more importantly for this article, they have excellent videos that trace themes through Scripture.  If you liked the Threads series, I think you’ll love these short videos!  You can access them by clicking on “Themes” under the “Watch” button on their website’s main menu.

 

The Centrality of Jesus

 

One of the things that struck me in the Threads series is how practically all the Bible’s major themes flow through Jesus, and Jesus transforms each theme in unexpected and spectacular ways.  For instance, there is a marital theme that runs through Scripture, and Jesus is the bridegroom who marries the church!  A theme of “rest” runs through Scripture, and Jesus is “the Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8) who came to give us rest!  Likewise, Jesus is the ultimate Passover Lamb; He is the true King; He is the light of the world; He is the embodiment of God’s glory!  These connection points shouldn’t surprise us, for Luke 24:27 says of Jesus, that “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”  It’s one thing to know the Old Testament points to Jesus; but in the Threads series, we saw it in vivid detail.  The themes all transform in the person and ministry of Jesus!

 

What’s Next?

 

You may be wondering what the next sermon series will be.  It won’t begin for a couple more weeks due to Baptism Sunday and Student Sunday, but I’m excited for it!  It will be called Living in Tune with Jesus and be based on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Stay tuned for more info!

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