November 12, 2017

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session

The Promise of a New Covenant
Jeremiah 31:27-34

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“Survivors and Promise”

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. The other day, I happened to visit the neighboring city of Dallas, Texas. In the Pearl Arts District—in the midst of the homeless as well as lower working-class population, the public bus and subway transportation system, a number of wealthy financial institutions, restaurants, historical landmarks, and cathedrals—is a small park filled with copper-colored plaques and statues. This park is called the Richard and Annette Bloch’s Cancer Survivors’ Plaza. I have lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex for almost 20 years, and I had even visited the plaza’s neighboring buildings several times, but I had never set foot in Cancer Survivors’ Plaza until that day. I spent the next 45 minutes or so in prayer as I walked around the plaza, quietly reading the plaques. I recalled memories of my paternal grandfather and maternal great-grandfather, both of whom our family lost to different forms of cancer. My mind traveled to news received as recently as last week of coworkers who learned of colleagues who were cancer survivors or who had relatives who were struggling with cancer.

The plaques greet the plaza’s visitors with positive messages—messages to inspire and encourage survivors and those who are struggling with the disease. The plaques and statues do not exist to give survivors and family members of victims a false sense of hope. Some plaques provide statistics about the survival rates of various forms of cancer and even a hotline telephone number for persons who are struggling with cancer. One of the more memorable monuments is a giant rolling ball that spins over a water fountain. The accompanying plaque suggests that cancer is like a rolling sphere of mass, constantly in motion. With proper steps and personal interventions, we can make cancer go in the other direction.

When the ancient Judeans were in exile, their lives were also going in the wrong direction. They were survivors who had once lived good, healthy lives in Jerusalem but now found themselves without their homes and places of worship. The exiled Judeans were servants to hostile, foreign rulers. Yet, the same prophets who had rained down judgment on the Jews also delivered words of hope. The prophet Jeremiah told the children of Israel, “‘So there is hope for your descendants,’ declares the LORD. ‘Your children will return to their own land’” (Jeremiah 31:17). Yes, the survivors of Judah and Israel’s exile could have hope because of God’s promise. Likewise, survivors and the families of persons with cancer can have hope and take comfort in God’s promises and presence.

  • How has your local congregation recognized the survivors and families impacted by cancer?
  • What are some of the ways you can bring hope to these families?

—Rod Thomas,

© 2017

Rod Thomas is a child-centered, fair-minded academic; a Christian who sometimes writes; and an aspiring preacher and layperson at University Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He is actively involved in his congregation’s homeless and children’s ministries and is a syndicated blogger for MennoNerds.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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