Grace UMC prepares for Sunday worship by reading the scripture for the coming Sunday’s sermon. Below, you fill find questions that can be used for Bible Study, small groups or personal devotion. Let the scripture speak into your life! Expect great things!
Preparation for Second Sunday of Advent
Our Just Peace Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal).
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). Play the aria “Comfort Ye My People” (or from YouTube, Jerry Hadley – Comfort ye my people -Messiah – Handel – YouTube). In pairs or groups of three, participants describe in a few sentences the image of the “way of the LORD” in the desert land of the Israelites. What would that look like in your own community?
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes). Read Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8.
• Isaiah speaks words of comfort and hope to people who are in exile from their own land. How can you understand and appreciate this good news in a position of relative comfort and safety? What are the barren and “exile” places in your own life? Does this passage bring comfort there? If so, why and how?
• Read aloud Isaiah 40:11. If you can, use a picture of the Good Shepherd (such as Kathrine Brown’s image “Jesus and the Lamb” (katherine brown artist jesus and the lamb – Bing images). Ask: “Can you visualize yourself as a lamb in Jesus’ care? Are you able to be vulnerable enough to be cared for and held in the arms of God?” If this is difficult, spend a few minutes discussing what it means and what it takes to entrust yourself to one another and to God.
• Mark 1:2-3 likens Isaiah’s messenger to John the Baptizer—the one crying out in the wilderness. Who today raises the prophetic voice from the “wilderness” to call the community to repent, reform, or reclaim the good news? What does that wilderness look like today? What sort of resistance does that modern-day prophet encounter?
• John looked (and seemed) a bit wild to his contemporaries, yet the “whole Judean countryside” flocked to him and confessed their sins. What do you think made him such a compelling person? Can you imagine who today would have such compelling and legitimate power? What does it take for you to trust a call to repent and follow?
• Take a look at the promises made by or on behalf of a person being baptized (United Methodist Hymnal, pp 34-35, or see below). Ask: “Are these promises you actively remember? Act upon? In what ways do you embrace the vow concerning justice? In what ways do you fulfill the promise to nurture others as a congregational member?”
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). End with the following prayer, a similar prayer, or the Lord’s Prayer:
God of the wilderness and of the way of peace: We confess that we too often pray for solace, but not for strength; for pardon, but not renewal. We are grateful for your guidance, your comfort, and your grace. Inspire and move us to hear your prophetic word, to do justice, and to fulfill our baptismal vows. In the name of Christ. Amen