We invite you to follow along with us as we explore our new theme The Unexpected Visitor. You can use this material for group discussion or personal Bible study. Check out each week's section, watch the introductory video to each week's sub theme and read and reflect your way through this month's passages.
History has meaning!
During the period of Advent we’re going to follow the unfolding story of the preparation for the birth of Jesus as told by Luke the physician. At the outset of his gospel he makes it plain that the story he will tell is not fictitious but has been verified by eye witnesses. He opens his account of the life of Jesus by introducing us to two contrasting characters: Zechariah the elderly priest and Mary a young teenager preparing for her wedding day in the near future. Both of these characters have an encounter with a visitor, you might say from another dimension, a visit that alters their lives and indeed the whole course of history. Luke introduces us to a narrative that brings Heaven and Earth together. A narrative in which God uses the most unexpected of people to become his agents of change in the world.
Over the next few weeks of Advent we’re going to take time to study Luke’s text a little closer and see what unexpected insights we will uncover. Moving from conversations of disbelief to belief we will uncover the Jerusalem Praise Sessions and finally we’ll discover extracts from Mary’s diaries, recalling insights that will shed light on the magic of Christmas that goes beyond mythical imaginings of fairies and Santa Claus. Insights that open us up to a spiritual reality inviting us to literally consider the consequences of Heaven touching Earth. Insights that create mystery and faith introducing us to the God with whom nothing is impossible. Such realities of faith far outstretch our minds beyond the predictable commercialisation of a white Christmas; to consider the enormity of what it truly means to say, “Emmanuel” — God is with us.
These discussion questions adapt our monthly themes for small Connect Groups or personal Bible study (look up the The Unexpected Visitor Resource Pack PDF for more information on this month's theme). The questions are divided into 4 parts to correspond with the 4 weeks of the Daily Worship theme. They are offered as a guideline and there is no need to go through all the given questions in a single session, or in the following sequence. Feel free to pick and choose, or adapt to what interests you or your group.
What are Connect Groups?
‘Connect Groups’ is the name we give to small informal gatherings who decide to meet together to explore the Bible alongside our monthly themes. These groups are independent and folk can simply set up their own Connect Group themselves, meeting together with friends and family on their own basis. In this time of Lockdowns when people can’t get together physically this material can still be used to meet together online.
Each month we produce a range of questions to adapt our themes for group discussion. The material is offered as a starting point and there is no need to go through all the questions.You can pick and choose, tailoring it to suit the needs and interests of your group. Each ‘Part’ could form the basis of a weekly roughly 90 minute meeting but you could break it up differently. Let us know if you would like to find out more about Connect Groups and different ways of linking into the Sanctuary First community.
We all come to the Bible with our own questions, insights and barriers. The guiding principle we have in writing these is to ask questions we don’t already know the answer to! Our hope is to facilitate open-ended discussions. Often the most valuable parts of group chats are the bits that go off on bizarre tangents. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Jesus knows a thing or two about bizarre tangents…
Need some advice on starting your own Connect Group? Get in touch.