BEFORE YOU GATHER
- Familiarize yourself with this Group Study Guide.
- If you missed it, CLICK HERE to watch the weekend sermon.
- Read Luke 1:39-55
- 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
Consider these Christmas practices from a woman in our church community, and what you might want to incorporate in your own life to prepare room for Jesus…
Our family implements the meaning of this season in some simple ways. With our boys, there is a lot of storytelling about the first Christmas. Over the years, I’ve collected books with different versions, and we read a new one each night. (Some of the ones we enjoy are: NIrV Children’s Bible, VeggieTales, Golden Books, and there’s an awesome Advent kid’s version from SheReadsTruth.)
Another fun activity is having them act out, or tell me, their understanding of the story while we decorate our home. They have their own kid’s nativity scene that I let them set up each year. Sometimes, I’ll ask them what they would bring Baby Jesus if they were one of the Wise Men.
Growing up, my mom always made a garland of paper. There were 25 links to count down to Christmas, and on each link, there was a section of Christmas story scripture to read over dinner.
Something that I have always cherished since a child was setting a purposeful ambiance in our home with things like lighting & music. I love to wake up before my family, or stay awake once everyone else is asleep, to spend time in prayer with only the Christmas tree lights on. This time helps me to reflect and be still, to comprehend the arrival of our Lord and Savior. Traditional Christmas hymns also help to recenter me.
In the past, our Community Group has been great about anonymously adopting a family in need. A few of our parents work in local schools or know of a neighbor who is in need. We keep toys and gift cards on hand in our cars for the families/kids we come in contact with. I love to do anonymous giving with our boys, because it reminds me that Jesus didn’t boastfully enter the world, demanding our recognition. Instead, he came into humble and obscure circumstances.
All of these things remind me that this is a Christian season to gather, give, and celebrate in a way that is not self-centered, but centered on the love of Christ for us and for the world.
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.
Ask for God to attune your eyes and ears and heart to what God is doing so that, like Elizabeth and Mary, you are able to respond to Him with worship and joy.
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 1:39-55. If everyone has a Bible, let's go there together.
- (Read Luke 1:39-45) Mary hurried to be with her relative Elizabeth when both of them were experiencing incredibly unique pregnancies. Can you remember a time when the connection and friendship of another person helped you to say “yes” to something that God was calling you to do?
- (Read Luke 1:46-55) A biblical scholar named N.T. Wright describes the response of Mary like this: “It’s the women who really know how to celebrate, to sing and dance, with their bodies and voices saying things far deeper than words. That’s how Mary’s song comes across here.” Describe how this resonates with you.
- (From Luke 1:46-55) Mary’s song is about what God has done through the arrival of Jesus. Read v46-55, and if there are any parts that remind you of something that Jesus said or did, share it with the group.
- Mary sings, “He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.” In light of what Mary says here, how are Americans uniquely positioned to miss out on the good news of Christmas? How could this Christmas be different, where we recognized our hungers and allowed God to fill us?
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.
Take some time to name, out loud, what is standing in the way of you experiencing and celebrating the arrival of God in the world.
If someone in the group names a personal obstacle that you feel led to pray for, intercede for them and ask God to meet them where they are.