We invite you to follow along with us as we explore our new theme Re:Set on Sanctuary First. You can use this material as a group or choose follow this bible study and journey on your own.
When humanity — made in God’s image — came crying, shouting and whooping into being we had mouths full of our own words. We responded to the Word of life with our own words of delight, shame, sorrow, curiosity, anger, wonder and love as we worked out what it means to be alive. And since then the words have only continued to flow as we have learnt more about what it is to be.
Every so often in this ongoing conversation it comes time to reset, refocus, and rediscover the thread. We take stock and respond again to that initial Word at the heart of the universe.
For God always invites our reply.
Reset us Creator God that we might rediscover our callings, our gifts, our humble beautiful purpose to love one another.
As we pray and hope for restoration, rebuilding and renewal throughout society what are we hoping to rediscover? What are we going to reimagine? What do we need to reconfigure? And how are we going to restart?
Part 1: Re: Set to Rediscover
Read Acts 8: 26-40
You’ve got to love the honesty of that Ethiopian eunuch. When asked if he understands what he’s reading there’s no bluster or bravado or excuses. He presses the reset button and says "How can I, unless someone guides me?”
Who has helped you to discover — or rediscover — things about God, the Bible, and your faith?
And who could God be drawing you towards to explain the puzzle they are looking at as they try to make sense of their faith?
Read Psalm 81
Chances are you don’t have a lyre lying around that you can grab. But you probably do have another portable, handheld device that makes noise and that can help you retune into God.
This psalm is a stirring invitation to reconnect that invites us to engage our senses creatively and use technology imaginatively to help us focus on the divine.
What are the sounds that help you tune in and connect to God?
Read John 15: 1-8
What are the fruits you long to see grow this year — the hopes that you are nurturing and tending to in your life, in the church, in your local community?
As branches of the true vine, how do we ensure that we abide with Jesus so that he flows through everything we are working towards?
Part 2: Re: Set to Reimagine
Read Exodus 35: 4-35
There’s a lot of detail here giving us a window into a vibrant community that is pooling together resources and skills in a great shared endeavour: constructing the Tabernacle (a kind of portable sanctuary).
Enormous shared tasks like these can unite a community, weaving people together with a common purpose.
As we look ahead to the rest of the year and decade, how can we come together in these challenging times to engrave, design, embroider, and weave a better world?
Read Hosea 11: 1-11
In the midst of all too human conflict and calamity, rejection and recklessness comes the voice of God — tender, frustrated, in pain — and sounding astonishingly human.
Getting our heads around what it is like to ‘be’ God is phenomenally difficult. How can we possibly imagine what it is like to be the ageless creator of everything!? But knowing that we ourselves are made in the image of God might give us some clues…
As we see in this reading: a heartbroken parent raising a child making their way through the miraculous and the mundane, the incredible and the everyday, teaching their child to walk and then bracing themselves for rejection, offers an echo of the divine love at heart of the universe.
What do you imagine it is like to ‘be' God? Are there other aspects of human experience that might give us other insights into ‘being' God?
Read John 15: 9-17
As followers of Jesus we can lay claim to an earth-shattering fact: Jesus — the Son of God, the Word at the beginning of the universe — is our friend.
Jesus lives with us as our friend. As a group, come up with different ways you could spend quality time with your friend Jesus today.
Part 3: Re: Set to Reconfigure
Read Acts 1: 1-11
Just like the apostles looking up into the sky, we are sometimes guilty of looking at where Jesus was rather than where he is now. What he was doing and not what he is doing now.
What ways do we need to recalibrate our church communities? To reassess where Jesus is calling us to join him?
Are there things that we currently do that, while good in themselves, have run their course and are no longer where Jesus is calling us to be?
Read Ephesians 1: 15-23
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. (15-16, NRSVA)
Remembering one another in prayer, sharing our gratitude for others is a powerful thing. Gratitude transforms communities, relationships, and lives. As we seek to rebuild in the wake of the pandemic how can we build simple gratitude for one another into our institutions and across society?
What does a justice system or a health system or an economic system with gratitude at its heart look like?
Read Matthew 28: 16-20
When we think about reconfiguring something we often prioritise implementing brand new approaches and methods. But, as we refocus on ‘The Great Commission’ to go and make disciples in this reading, are there things from our rich Christian tradition which we can re-commission, that we can bring back into use?
Are there things that we have stopped doing that we could re-adapt to our current age in order to better live out this Great Commission from Jesus?
What does it mean to you?
Part 4: Re: Set to Restart
Read Ezekiel 37: 1-14
This is a vivid, startling picture of new life bursting forth. How would you have felt as Ezekiel witnessing this vision?
And where do you see a coming together of dry bones in the church today? Where do you see God resetting bones so that God’s people can come to life?
Read 1 Corinthians 12: 4-13
Unlike an unloved box of bath salts that nobody wants and get re-gifted to somebody else every Christmas (sorry Aunt Joan…) Spiritual gifts are meant to be shared.
Why do you think the Spirit often breaks up the gifts into interlocking pairs?
What gifts do you have that could be shared in a ministry team with others to build up the church?
Read Numbers 11: 24-30
Even when we don’t set out to reset or restart we can find ourselves suddenly moved by the Spirit and resetting anyway.
Eldad and Medad didn’t go looking for the Spirit, but the Spirit found them…
As we look to restart, to set out again, having set our eyes on God, how can we be more open to the Spirit calling unexpected voices? What steps can we take to be better and more generous listeners? In this context, how can you be more of a Moses and less of a Joshua…?