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Yelena Pakhomova

Summer with the Psalms

Summer with the Psalms

Prayer is a pretty big deal. After all, at Commons we opened this year with prayer and we’re closing the year with prayer. From the Lord’s Prayer in the fall, to the Psalms prayer book in the summer, we’ve got instructions and illustrations to shape our prayerful souls in all seasons.

So what’s prayer to you? Is it the recitation of prayers you learned as a kid? Is prayer the words that spring up inside you like “thank you,” “help me,” and “I’m so sorry”? Maybe prayer is becoming less wordy and more connected to deep breaths, centred contemplation, and heart-soaring awe.

There are Christians in all kinds of traditions that pray the Psalms every day, morning and night. And sure, the prayerful poems are more familiar year after year, but they never stop speaking and shaping the human heart before God. Dive into the Psalms with us this summer and find yourself refreshed with honesty, lament, and praise.

Discussion notes for the summer series


Psalm 1

Bonus Material

The beauty of the psalms is that they invite us to be honest with ourselves about everything we are feeling because that’s the only way our anger and frustration with the world can be transformed into motivation and hope to change it.


Psalm 13

Bonus Material

Sometimes we have a tendency to universalize the particular moment we are experiencing. ie. "This is all I will ever feel again." The chance to reset and reform our perspective is as important for us as it is for the author of Psalm 13.


Psalm 14

Bonus Material

There is a kind of beauty that we notice instinctively and then there is a beauty that we need to see through someone else's eyes. We need their perspective and background and story to help us notice the beauty that is around us always.


Psalm 26

Bonus Material

When you read the opening of Psalm 26 you can see the author lose sight of his objectivity as he recounts his blamelessness before God. And that's okay. There's a time to objective and then there's a time to be honest about how we feel. Remember that.


Psalm 32

Bonus Material

Part of the reason poetry is so vital to the scriptural narrative is that it reminds us how limited literal language really is.


Psalm 42


Acts of the Apostles

Acts of the Apostles

The book of Acts can present as a collection of hyperboles. Fire from heaven, dramatic exorcisms, adventure on the high seas, earthquakes and arrests. In some ways this seems appropriate, because it’s the story of Jesus’ first followers after all. How they began to share the story of Jesus’ life and resurrection, with the Holy Spirit invariably appearing to add dramatic flair.

But, if we take time to look a little closer, we find that there are a bunch of stories here showcasing the haphazard, serendipitous, and mundane ways in which the first Christians went about trying to be faithful. The ways in which they encountered the divine. The ways in which they discovered, as N.T. Wright says, that the God of the Hebrew Scriptures was “doing a new thing in the whole world.”

Seeing this, we can affirm that while the Church’s genesis was marked by spectacular action, it was also expressed in ordinary human experience. That the Holy Spirit was at work in spectacular events and day-to-day monotony alike. And we can consider how the same might be true for us.


Acts ch2 - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This week we are diving into a summer series on the book of Acts. The Acts of the Apostles is a collection of stories about how the followers of Jesus became what we know as the Church.


Acts ch4 - Devon Scott

Discussion Notes

This week’s texts are located in what is known as the Jerusalem passage, and they record some of the earliest persecution that the church experienced.


Acts ch5 - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes

This week we looked at two stories we find at the beginning of Acts— both these stories are intense and strange and full of drama. And these stories don’t wrap up nicely or end tidily — they are confusing, and we can be a bit uncomfortable with having them in our Bibles.


Acts ch10 - Jim Cresswell

Discussion Notes

It’s been a while since the feast of Pentecost, where this series started. The church in Acts has continued to grow, but with that growth has come serious and deadly persecution. The story of Jesus has started moving outward, and two main protagonists move this narrative forward— Paul and Peter. Today, we focus in on part of Peter’s story.


Acts ch16 - Maddie McBlain

Discussion Notes

This week, we look at part of Paul’s story. Acts 16 shows us what it looks like for people from vastly different walks of life to encounter the good news. We meet a wealthy business woman, a girl in slavery, and a man who works in a prison.


Acts ch17 - Yelena Pakhomova

Discussion Notes

In his speech at the Areopagus, Paul adapts the way he presents the story of Jesus— he puts this story of grace into a language that connects with those he is speaking to. In Athens, Paul finds that the God he worships has been at work in places he didn’t expect. While the city is filled with idols, it is also filled with the Holy Spirit, working through those who worship God.


Acts ch19 - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen Paul in Philippi and Athens, and this week we follow him to Ephesus. These were the three major cities in the ancient world with their own flavour and customs. Each of the cities presented their own challenges to Paul and early Jesus story. One could tell a lot about the culture of each city based on that city’s particular temple to a particular god of the Greco-Roman pantheon around which the life of that city and its commerce was built. Philippi had Pan, Athens had Athena, and Ephesus was built around the temple of Artemis.


Acts ch27 - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes

We are nearing the finale of the book of Acts. This summer through the Acts sermons we’ve covered topics like the forward-facing journey in faith, the complicated struggles that come when you start something new, the serious business of being the temples of the Spirit, and so much more. Today, we come to the shorter, colder days for the Apostle Paul. Paul leaves prison after two years. And still as a prisoner, Paul is put on a ship for Rome.