What are you most looking forward to this Christmas break? Why?
This Sunday, Pastor Scott continued our Advent series Christmas As by exploring the Advent theme of joy through the Magi.
How do you define joy? Do you associate joy with this holiday season? Why or why not?
Next, read Matthew 2:1-18. Here, Matthew tells the story of the Magi, or magicians, who first worshiped Jesus after his birth. Though often called three wise men or kings, these figures were actually pagan (non-Jewish) astrologers who traveled the ancient world looking for signs in the stars that, they believed, could lead them to witness important historical events. Thus, understand, these Magi are the definition of outsiders in God’s Story, the very last people we’d expect to worship & rejoice over the birth of Israel’s Messiah first.
What does this story reveal about who’s invited into God’s Story? How does this offer outsiders, like the Magi, a reason to rejoice when it comes to Jesus’ arrival?
However, this story isn’t entirely happy as it’s scarred by another example from human history of the powerful crushing the weak to preserve their power. Despite this moment of joy, the Magi accidentally lead King Herod to Bethlehem; who, upon identifying it as Jesus’ birth place, then orders the execution of Bethlehem’s male babies in an attempt to kill Jesus.
How does this dark element impact your engagement with Jesus’ birth story? How might its inclusion in this story inform who Jesus is & why he came?
Altogether, Matthew’s birth story challenges us to recognize that this ultimate moment of joy holds, within the same hand, both the best & worst of the human experience.
Do you tend to think of the Christmas story as speaking to both the happiest & most tragic aspects of being human? Why do you think it’s important that it includes both (as opposed to just being purely happy)?
How does this offer a vision of joy that’s about more than just happiness? How might this free us to recognize joy as something that can be found in every part of our life (the good, bad, & ugly)?
Based upon your answers, how would you define joy now? Where do you need to embrace this advent joy during this current season of life?
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 joy? Do you imagine joy as something that can be found in both good & bad experiences or seasons?
- How might Jesus’ arrival & birth story point towards a vision of joy that transcends our circumstances? That is, how might it give us a definition of joy that can be found in any & all circumstances?
- Where do you need this joy 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 24th: Join us next Sunday for our Christmas Eve Services! We’ll be having an Inflatable Stories performance at 10AM & then two Christmas Eve gatherings at 3PM & 5PM!
* Please see mye3.org for details.