What was one of the biggest surprises of your life so far? What happened & how did you respond?
This Sunday, Pastor Mike continued our Advent series Christmas As by exploring the Advent theme of peace through the shepherds who witnessed Jesus’ birth.
Do you associate feeling at peace more with your internal reality OR with controlling people, events, & circumstances outside of yourself? How does this impact your ability to feel at peace on a daily basis?
Next, read Luke 2:1-20. As Mike mentioned on Sunday, Luke begins this account of Jesus’ birth by referencing the reign of Caesar Augustus. Notably, in rising to power, Augustus had paraded into Rome before declaring himself divine & his reign as the climax of history that marked this new era of peace for the whole world.
Thus, Luke is clearly & intentionally contrasting this image of Augustus’ arrival with Jesus’ (even using the term Gospel, which referred to a Roman Proclamation concerning a world-changing imperial event).
With this in mind, what stands out as clear points of contrast to this image of Caesar Augustus within Jesus’ birth story? What do the differences in Jesus’ arrival convey about who he is & what he’s here to do? Consider this story’s setting, conditions, circumstances, etc.
Critically, Augustus Caesar’s parade into Rome would’ve been witnessed by the most powerful people of the Empire. Jesus’ arrival, alternatively, is witnessed first by a group of no-named, poor shepherds.
Why is it important that Jesus’ arrival is witnessed first by these poor, unimportant people (instead of those with worldly power)? How does this reveal an upside-down vision for the world lying at the heart of the Christmas story?
Finally, the shepherds leave amazed & transformed by this encounter, despite the concrete circumstances of their lives remaining changed.
How might Jesus’ arrival & choice to identify with them offer these shepherds a vision for peace that didn’t require them to change or control their external circumstances?
Consider where you’re currently struggling to feel at peace. How might this vision of Advent Peace transform your interactions with those uncontrollable people, circumstances, & events that you’ve identified? How might this help you feel more peace in the midst of those areas or relationships?
Coming Out of the Hole
Take time to reflect on the Sunday sermon & how this week’s teaching might speak into your daily life.
- How do you define peace? What makes you feel at peace? What often has the ability to “rob you” of your peace?
- How might Jesus’ arrival & birth story ground our peace in God’s presence with us internally, rather than our ability to control uncontrollable external circumstances? How might recognizing God’s immediate presence with us as the source of peace change how we respond to challenging people, circumstances, or events?
- Where do you need this peace as you head into this Christmas season? How can your group help you lean into it over the next few weeks?
Journal, reflect, & pray on how God might be speaking to you through each week’s teaching. Share your experience with your growth group next week!
Simply Jesus by NT Wright
Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent & Christmas (Advent Devotional)
Coming Up This Week:*
Sunday, December 17th: Join us next Sunday as we continue Christmas As & explore the Magi who witnessed Jesus’ arrival!
* Please see mye3.org for details.