Emmanuel in the Midst of a Pandemic

Emmanuel in the Midst of a Pandemic

December 11, 2020

Week 3

Advent Theme: JOY

Icebreakers:

  • What is your favorite holiday dessert?
  • What is your favorite holiday beverage?
  • What does Christmas look like in your city, town or village?  Is there anything unique to your specific geographic area?

Optional Activity:

Christmas Hats – you’ve heard of ugly Christmas sweater competitions, but have you participated in a crazy Christmas hat competition?  Before your meeting, ask everyone to wear their best Christmas hat – they can be silly, ugly, or just festive.  Capture the moment during your small group time using screenshots or a similar image capture feature to snap a photograph.  Then send them to the group in email or text.  I would love to see them too! Melanie.hill@cor.org

Watch Video: (13:45) Opening prayer included in video

Discussion:

1. Has COVID affected your normal holiday traditions?  If so, in what ways?

2. Pastor Adam states he doesn’t believe that God caused the pandemic, but God can wring good out of it and was, and is, with us through it.  Do you agree? If yes, where and how do you see God wringing good from the pandemic? If no, why not?

3. Pastor Adam writes that “…when we speak of the Incarnation: God took on flesh and entered our world as a human being.” That God “became human” in Jesus. (p.102) What’s the difference between a Jesus who appears human and a Jesus who is human?  Why is this such an important question to consider?

4. How does Jesus, being fully God and fully human, allow you to experience God?

5.  Pastor Adam (quoting Frederick Buechner) is fond of saying, “The worst thing is never the last thing”.  During this pandemic, it can be hard to embrace that phrase.  As we celebrate the theme of Joy this week in Advent, how does it bring you joy to know that God is always with you, even in the worst of times?

6.  In Jesus, God came to be with us, to incarnate God’s love for us.  How can we represent or bring Christ to others this week?

Closing Prayer: “Oh God, how grateful we are that you came to us in Jesus Christ, our Emmanuel.  You understand our humanity, our fears, our weaknesses, our succumbing to sin, those moments when we are less than what you wish us to be.  You understand our love, our hurts, and our pain. You understand our struggle with grief and death.  Thank you for revealing yourself to us in Jesus, that we might know who you are and that we might walk with you and love you all of our days.  Lord, use us to represent you to those who don’t know you.  Help us to incarnate your love and grace to all that we meet.  In Jesus’s name.  Amen.” (Adapted from prayer on p.114)

Suggested Spiritual Practices:

Worship:  Find a nativity set in your home or a picture online to contemplate.  Think of what it means for Jesus to be fully divine and fully human.  Recite the familiar phrase O come let us adore Him from the carol, “O Come All Ye Faithful”. Bask in the adoration of God choosing to come and be with us. 
Study:  Read the foundational passages for this weeks study.  Matthew 1:22-25; Isaiah 7:1-16; Hebrews 1:1-4; 4:14-16
Serve: Many are struggling as a result of the pandemic, while others have not been as financially impacted. You can bear a message of hope through your giving directly to help those impacted by the pandemic through joy in serving at cor.org/joy. Ideas include gift cards to ministry partners, food support, and donations to our global ministry partners who are facing the needs for funds for disaster relief.
Give: While others may not be struggling financially, isolation brings its own challenges. Giving may include a homemade gift with a card delivered to the porch of their home as a sign they are not alone.
Share: Share your own story of what Jesus, Emmanuel—"God with us” means to you. Write it down. Send it to someone who you think needs to hear it along with well wishes for Christmas.

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