September 11, 2022
From our Creator God who revealed divine presence by asking the man and woman in the garden, “Where are you?” –
to Moses’ curiosity about why a bush was burning yet not consumed –
to the prophets who charged their people to dream of a world beyond the one they saw before them –
to Jesus who asked questions (307 to be exact!) as his method of teaching vital spiritual truths –
to Paul who reminds us that in seeking to know the love of Christ we will come to know the fullness of God and be invited into kin-dom work beyond what we could imagine on our own –
having a “Spirit of Curiosity” is a central invitation and spiritual practice in the Story of God and God’s People.
As Albert Einstein says, there is a holiness about curiosity that keeps us learning, growing, and remaining in awe and wonder. Children are naturally curious; as we grow older we often lose our curiosity because we are so often taught that having the right answer is more important than asking questions. Or we may be taught that being curious is a waste of time. When we seek to be curious and understand something more deeply about ourselves, others, or God – rather than assume or rely only on previous knowledge or experience – we grow in compassion, empathy, and understanding. When practiced with intention – with a spirit that seeks to explore rather than exploit – curiosity can build a bridge across divides that we previously thought were uncrossable, leading us to people and perspectives very different than us.
It seems that our country, our churches, and even our very selves are plagued by division and fear. As a life practice, curiosity might just be one of the most helpful keys we have to unlock the rigidity we find ourselves trapped in. Curiosity can help us have hard conversations without getting defensive. Curiosity can give us compassion for the people who do not share our life experience or worldview. Curiosity can free us from constraints of long held beliefs so that we can live more fully and freely as ourselves. Curiosity cultivates humility. Curiosity requires us to set aside our preconceived notions, to learn how to listen well, and to use our imaginations. Just as in science, where everything is a hypothesis until another question or test proves it otherwise, curiosity leads to innovation and growth in our faith that is rooted in conviction without the need for absolute certainty.
Throughout this year, as we journey through Scripture, we will be exploring what it means for us to have a Spirit of Curiosity in our faith and in our lives. Following the model of Jesus, who prioritized questions over answers, we will learn how asking questions of ourselves, one another, and our faith can invite us to deeper understanding and growth. In a similar spirit to former Calvary pastor Larry Loughhead who ended his sermons by saying “Think about that,” Jesus asks, “What do you think?” three times in the span of four chapters in Matthew (chapters 17, 18, 21)! This year we will explore practical tools and tips for cultivating curiosity in our day to day lives and in our theological perspectives. We will take time to be curious in silence and in nature, in scripture and in worship, in conversation and in community. We will get curious about our church – Calvary – and about how God is working through us as a people of faith. We will learn how curiosity gives us the courage we need to share the Good News of God’s Love in our communities and the world around us. We will see how when we loosen our grip just a little on what we think we know, we might be able to grasp what God has been wanting to show us all along – that there is more to our understanding and experience of God, ourselves, others, and the world around us than we ever thought possible.
Sub-Themes/Seasons of Spirit of Curiosity
Gathering Season (Sept. 11 – Oct. 9): Call & Covenant Rainbow
Stewardship Season (Oct. 16 – Nov. 20): Chronos & Kairos Green
Advent/Christmas Season (Nov. 27 – Jan. 1): Womb & Wonder Blue
Epiphany Season (Jan. 8 – Feb. 19): Pace & Practice White & Gold
Lenten Season (Feb. 26 – April 2): Courage & Kin-dom Purple
Easter Season (April 9 – May 21): Compassion & Commission Red
Narrative Lectionary link: https://www.workingpreacher.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/narrative_lectionary_matthew_2022-23.pdf
Gathering Season (Sept. 11 – Oct. 9): Call & Covenant
During this season, we will introduce the concept of curiosity as it relates to our faith, and explore how the call to curiosity is rooted in the call of God to God’s people. As we look at stories from the Old Testament, we’ll see how curiosity about our gifts and potential is what invites God to call us to new endeavors – and – curiosity is what allows ordinary people of faith like us to answer God’s call instead of immediately saying “no” or “I can’t do that.” Curiosity leads us to liberation, freeing us from our past to the future God longs for all of us to share. And, curiosity is what continues to connect God to God’s people through covenant – even in times of doubt, despair, or disobedience.
Stewardship Season (Oct. – Nov. 20): Chronos & Kairos
During this season, we will explore the character of curiosity. We’ll read scriptures that reveal what happens when we are properly curiously about others, ourselves, and the world around us – and what happens when we instead assert ego and desire in unhealthy ways. We will learn how curiosity can help move us from our limited experience of chronos time (a quantitative, measurable time that we live in day to day) to Kairos time (a qualitative time that is ‘outside of’ or ‘beyond’ the time our clocks keep, the Time that God invites us to imagine as the kin-dom of God is lived out; it is called by the Greeks the “opportune time”). Days like All Saints Day remind us that we are connected beyond this world to the next, and part of curiosity is thinking about the legacy we want to leave and the legacy people we love have left us.
Additionally, in these weeks of focusing on stewardship and gratitude, we will “get curious about Calvary” – about our ministry together and how we can learn more about and support our church’s vital ministries. As we explore the ministry Christ is doing through Calvary, we’ll invite you to be curious about your own financial giving as we collectively remain open to God’s call for our church and community. What we give today will give us the foundation we need for wherever God’s curiosity calls us to in the future. We will give thanks for the ministries of our church that exist in Chronos time – past, present, and future – while recognize that it is all a part of building the kin-dom of God in Kairos time.
Advent/Christmas Season (Nov. 27 – Jan. 1): Womb & Wonder
In Advent we experience God’s curiosity for us. With the foundation of the wonder of the prophets, “Curiosity Comes Down” at Christmas in the form of the Christ child, the one who will grow into the man who teaches by asking questions and who loves by drawing near to people to learn about their lives. In this season we learn that God is so curious about humanity that God chooses to come into the world as a child, learning and experiencing life from our human perspective – which is truly wondrous. In the days of Advent – of waiting in the womb of expectation and preparation and holy silence and nurture – we seek to allow God to grow curiosity within us, even as we experience the child-like wonder and curiosity of Christmas anew.
Epiphany Season (Jan. 8 – Feb. 19): Pace & Practice
Epiphany is about the way the presence of Christ is mysteriously revealed in our lives and in the world. We are invited to experience divine revelation in ways that surprise us. Also in this season, we see Jesus’ teaching ministry anew as he reveals to us how we can connect with God more fully. We’ll observe the curiosity of Christ and see what we can learn from his life experiences and teachings. Exploring some of the spiritual practices and foundational truths that Jesus taught us (the Lord’s Prayers, the beatitudes) in addition to how he faces difficult situations (the temptation in the wilderness, the golden rule) will help us set the pace for curiosity in our lives, as well as give us some hands-on tools for practicing curiosity through the lens of Christ.
Cultivating a spirit of curiosity is hard work when done authentically and with care. We need to practice curiosity with the well-being of our whole selves in mind. Therefore, having practices that help us in our everyday lives is essentially, as is the needed reminder that we do not have to be curious all the time! Sometimes we need to take breaks from exploration; sometimes we need to rest in what we know, before moving again to asking questions about what we don’t know.
Lenten Season (Feb. 26 – April 2): Courage & Kin-dom
Lent is by its nature an introspective season. It is a season that calls us to dig deep inside of ourselves to really see how our faith is transforming us for the sake of the kin-dom and not just comforting us in our personal lives. Throughout Lent we’ll read stories and parables from Jesus that emphasize justice and honest examination of our own prejudices, biases, and ways of seeing. These texts will challenge us to view curiosity as an essential practice for growing in us the courage we need to bring about “the kin-dom of God on earth as it is in heaven.” The spirit of curiosity is courageous, and that courage is needed as we follow the call of Christ even all the way to the cross.
Easter Season (April 9 – May 21): Compassion & Commission
The resurrection story invites perhaps the biggest curiosity of our faith – that Life defeats Death and Hope is stronger than Despair. From the mystery of the resurrected Christ appearing to his disciples to the great commission Christ gives to his followers to make disciples throughout the ends of the earth, the Eastertide texts from Matthew, Acts, and Romans remind us of one of our primary calls as Christians – to share the Good News! As we head toward Pentecost, Eastertide will be a celebratory season of exploring how Christ empowers and equips us with a commission to change the world through our faith. And because this commission will inherently require entering into conversations and cultures and worldviews different than our own, our spirit of curiosity must be rooted in compassion for all people and their experience of God. The spirit of curiosity sends us forth into the world – as a compassionate people with a commission to share God’s love with all. What does it mean to be the “Church” today? How is God leading us to be the church in our communities and neighborhoods? This season will emphasize getting curious about our context, our culture, and our collective calling as the people of God who are sent forth into the world to bear witness to the love and grace of Christ.