12.01.2019 | ADVENT 2019 | Wk 1: “Hope”
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Share a story about a time when you were given an unexpected gift. What was it? Who gave it to you? Why was it so unexpected?
First, take time to define two words: hope & expectations.
How do you define each of these? Are there any similarities between them? What are the differences between something you hope for & something you expect?
Read Matthew 1:18-25.
Reflect on the characters of Mary & Joseph in Jesus’ birth story.
What do you think were some of the expectations they had for their lives? What were some of their hopes?
In this time, Mary getting pregnant in this way (out of wedlock) would have been incredibly looked down upon.
How do you think Mary was impacted by this moment? How do you think it impacted her expectations?
More so, at this point in the story, Israel had been conquered by Rome for some time. Their expectations for God’s King (Messiah) were that he would arrive as a warrior king to defeat Rome. However, Jesus arrives in a poor, seemingly insignificant, & socially outcast family (child out of wedlock).
How do you think Jesus’ arrival in this way would have impacted Israel’s expectations for God’s King?
What does Jesus’ arrival in this way do to Israel’s expectations that He would be a warrior king?
What does Jesus’ arrival in this way do to Israel’s expectations that He would build God’s Kingdom by power & might?
What does it say about God that He chooses to enter our world through a family like this one? Why do you think He chooses to arrive through this family & situation?
Finally, reflect on how God’s arrival in this way could be understood in light of hope.
How does God’s arrival through a family like this & in this way give us hope, especially as it breaks our expectations?
Ultimately, this story reminds us that there is always hope when it comes to God – especially in the areas that seem the most poor, fragile, weak, or hopeless. Those are exactly where this God chooses to show up in the most profound way.
Where in your life do you need to hope that God can show up & work? Where are you expectations getting in the way of you having that hope?
What might it look like to shift from expectations to hope in that area of your life in this Advent season?
Getting Out of the Hole
Take time each week during this Advent season to reflect on how God’s arrival lights up each of the Advent themes (Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love).
This week, reflect on how God’s arrival in human form redefines how we understand hope. Reflect on something in your life where you have come to feel hopeless (feeling like it will never change) & you have come to believe that God is absent (relationship, family, job, finances, etc.).
Journal about how this story about hope might change the story you are telling yourself about that situation. What might it look like to find God showing up in this area where you wouldn’t expect Him? How would it change it?
Share your experience with the group next week!
Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent & Christmas (Advent Devotional)
Surprised by Hope by NT Wright
Matthew for Everyone by NT Wright
Coming Up This Week:*
Sunday, December 8: Join us for the next week of our series ADVENT: Where Good News is Actually Good, where we will explore the theme of Peace in the story of Christ’s coming!
* Please see mye3.org for details.