BEFORE YOU GATHER
- Familiarize yourself with this Group Study Guide.
- If you missed it, CLICK HERE to watch the weekend sermon.
- Read Luke 1:26-38, 4:16-29.
- CLICK HERE to watch a fantastic Bible Project video about Jesus’ birth from the Gospel of Luke.
- Sit in prayerful silence with God for a while, and ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything that he wants you to share during your group’s time together.
ADVENT RESOURCES FOR FURTHER GROWTH & DISCIPLESHIP
- (Family Resource) The Wonder of the Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp
- (Family Resource) The Tale of Three Trees, by Angela Elwell Hunt
- (Advent Bible Reader) Waiting Here For You, by Louie Giglio
- (Advent Bible Reader) Watch for the Light, by Multiple Authors
- (Gaining Christmas Context) Hidden Christmas, by Tim Keller
- (Video Resource) The True Christmas Story, by Ran Vander Laan
PRACTICES TO PREPARE ROOM FOR JESUS
- (Personal) Take some time to be alone with God (e.g. a half hour period each week where you take a walk) and simply spend that time with God in quiet reflection.
- (Couples) Commit to pray together at least once a week for the season of Advent to focus on getting Jesus central to your relationship.
- (Families) Have a meal together each week where you take time to reflect on what Jesus has done in your family for the last year and how you want to move forward together with Jesus at the helm next year. Pray for each other.
- (Community Groups) Consider a way to serve your city/neighborhood together.
Opening Prayer: (1-5 minutes)
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here’s some suggestions of how your group can invite God into your time together.
Billy described two “Earth-shaking encounters” that occurred in Nazareth, and challenged us to surrender to God, and to look at some of the ways that Jesus experienced some of the struggles that we may meet, such as rejection. Let’s take a moment to pray that God speaks to each of us through the discussion that we have together, and that God bonds our group in a greater way through this shared experience.
Quick Connection: (5 minutes)
Have everyone take 30 seconds each to share a phrase or a moment from this weekend’s message that is still resonating with them. You also have the option to say “Pass.”
Large Group Discussion: (30 minutes)
This weekend’s message came from Luke 1:26-38, 4:16-29. If everyone has a Bible, let's go there together.
- Mary demonstrates a thoughtful faith (Luke 1:29), and her life encourages us to deeply consider what it means to know and follow Jesus. How did this speak to your own life and your own thoughtful faith? Share with the group the questions/challenges that you face, and explore together how you can support one another in your questions.
- What did surrender look like in the lives of Joseph and Mary? Honestly evaluate where in your life you have yet to say to God, "my life is yours." Can you name the area? How can you encourage one another to move into deeper surrender?
- The sermon highlighted how our shared experiences - especially painful experiences like rejection - can produce bonding among groups of people. It's powerful to have someone else look us in the eyes and say, "I understand." When have you experienced this kind of bonding in Christian community, or in other groups? When have you bonded with God in a moment when you realized that Jesus understood what you were going through?
- Billy described how our homes can either be a safe or unsafe place, depending on personal experience. How can this Community Group be a safe place, especially for those who don't have that kind of space at home?
CLOSING PRAYER (5-15 minutes):
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here’s some suggestions of what your group could talk about with God in prayer.
Consider how God has spoken to you through the message and in the group discussion. Share one of your main takeaways from this time together.
Pray that God enables each of us to surrender more to Him throughout the week. Pray that God gives us a greater understanding of Jesus’ suffering, so that we may give our troubles to him and to rely on Him more through the bond of shared experience.
Finally, pray that we can be thoughtful and mindful of those around us and the struggles that they may have had through rejection in their lives, and even to reach out to others in their pain.