From September through December, two different groups worked through a fourteen section study on the Gospel of Matthew. We studied Matthew as, starting in Advent, Matthew will be the Gospel the Lectionary supplies for worship most often for the coming year.
We began by studying the context of the religious environment of Matthew’s time as well as the political dimensions to better understand the issues at hand. The curriculum kept challenging us to focus on Matthew’s claims about Jesus and letting them stand alone rather than blending in the insights of Mark, Luke or John. It also drew our attention to those places where Matthew included something not included in any of the other Gospels and asking us to consider why and to what end. Matthew’s Gospel can be challenging and yet staying within his framework and perspective we were able to gain new insights and see truth even in some of the most difficult or vexing passages. Many people in the study commented on they noticed things in the Gospel they had never seen before. Some went so far to say that Matthew had become their favorite Gospel. Even more importantly one person even said that through this study they felt like they really met Jesus for the first time.
Each section ended with a celebration including a grand feast for the evening group. While people were deeply grateful for their better understand of this gospel, everyone talked about the joy of being together and exploring these texts in supporting and deep ways. Talk to someone from the class to find out more so that the next time a study starts you might step forward and say me too!