All of our worship services were cancelled for today and many of you have e-mailed me that you wished there was a chance to worship or study at home. -Wish granted!-
I’ve attached a short outline of a study that you can use for a personal study time, with your family, or even a small group of neighbors that wants to brave the cold and gather together.
I’ll be on Skype tonight between 9-10 if you want to have a conversation about this or any other Advent/Christmas topic. Look for me at jmw3wookiee.
The traditional themes for Advent are: Love, Hope, Joy and Peace.
This Advent …
- Consider that hope is born in barrenness not easy and prosperity.
- For Elizabeth and Zechariah that was the case.
- What do these verses say about Elizabeth and Zechariah’s character?
- Luke 1:6.
- Luke 1:8-9.
Hope always looks for light.
- Read Luke 1:78-79.
Where have you seen hope this Christmas?
- Is there something you’ve seen in the news that gives you hope?
- Is there something that’s happened in your life during the last 3 weeks that gives you hope?
- Check out www.givesmehope.com.
Isaiah 35:1,5-7 & Matthew 1:18-25
- How do you define joy? How is it different from happiness? Is it different?
- Consider how quietly the joy represented by God’s Son comes into the world.
- A small town in an out of the way province of the Roman empire.
- A peasant woman betrothed to an unknown laborer .
- In Matthew there are no choirs of angels. Just an angel in a dream to Joseph.
- Why did God choose to have Jesus born this way?
- What does the setting of Jesus’ birth tell us about God? What does it tell us about ourselves?
- Look up the story of the Joshua Tree. How does the Joshua Tree become a symbol of Jesus’ birth and life?
- Where in Isaiah 35 do you see a message of joy?
- What specific images in the chapter resonate with you the most?
In A Christmas Carol, Dickens said that Scrooge learned to “keep Christmas well.”
- What do you think he meant?
- What role do you think joy plays in keeping Christmas well?
Where is your joy this Christmas?
- Where is God’s joy invading your life?
Isaiah 2:1-5; Isaiah 7:14 & Isaiah 11:1-10
- Last week we sang the lyric, “Do you see what I see?”
- As followers of Christ we are called to see what others cannot see.
- Peace may be one of the most important things that we are called to see that others cannot.
- Read these verses from the prophet Isaiah.
- Isaiah 2:4.
- Isaiah 11:1-7.
- The coming of God’s kingdom is the coming of peace.
- What does that peaceful kingdom look like to you?
As a follower of Jesus, what can you do (are you doing) to make peace a reality?
- “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world at arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists and the hopes of its children.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower.
- “Peacemaking requires a life of prayer. It demands ongoing resistance to the forces of violence. It necessitates true community. Peacemaking requires living and working among the poor and the broken.” – Henri Nouwen.
- How would express God’s call to peace?
How are you experiencing peace this Christmas?
- Are the people in your life experiencing you as peace?
Isaiah 9:2-7 & Matthew 2:1-12
- Read Matthew 2:1-12.
- Can you understand why the events surrounding Jesus’ birth and the visit of the Magi would have been surprising and troubling to Joseph and Mary?
- How long do you think it took them to process and understand all that happened?
- Read Isaiah 9:2-7.
- Where is the love of God expressed in Isaiah 9?
How have you experienced God’s love?
- Have you experienced it personally?
- What difference has it made in your life?
Put these two Scripture passages side-by-side.
- Together, what do they say about God’s love?
- Where do they speak to you most clearly?
Can you define love the way God defines love?
- How have you experienced that kind of love in the weeks leading up to Christmas?
- How have you been the bearer of that kind of love?