The questions in this small group guide relate to the sermon from April 25, 2021. If your group has not had a chance to listen to the full sermon related to this discussion guide, they can find it in our sermon library. Rev. Adam Hamilton preached this week’s sermon.
Lord God, the classic hymn says, “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.” What that means is that in some mysterious way beyond our easy understanding you are never solitary, never “all alone.” We’re made in your image, which is why we need one another. Thank you for this group, and guide us as we are gradually able to resume more in-person interactions. Amen.
- Pastor Adam said, “I’ve been asked if we’ll continue to have worship on television after the pandemic. The answer is yes, absolutely. And we’ll continue to have worship online. Bible studies and programs organized for online too. Digital and online has been a huge gift that resulted from COVID….We’ve spent a year social distancing, wearing masks, not hugging or hand-shaking or breaking bread together. That was the right thing to do. But I fear we might forget how important these things are.” How has the past year changed your personal relationships, for worse or for better? How has it affected your group connection(s)? How has it affected your experience of worshiping and serving God?
- Read Romans 12:10-15. The house churches in Rome (there were no large cathedrals in the first century) could grow alienated from each other. In what ways can worshipping alone online create similar spiritual issues? How can being with other worshippers in person create common ground and connectedness that you might miss when isolated? How can you best nurture a living sense of involvement with your family of faith?
- Read Philippians 2:1-4. Paul urged Jesus’ followers in the city of Philippi to let love unite them. That, he said, would make his joy complete. The actions Paul encouraged in verses 1-2 are still good guides for relationships. Yet our culture values independence. Is Paul’s vision possible in the 21st century? Is it possible after a pandemic? How can what we’ve learned over the past year shape “unity” and “agreement” in ways that may be different, but that uphold them as key values in our faith?
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:24-27. Paul said, “You are the body of Christ and parts of each other.” That is what we mean when we use the churchy-sounding word “fellowship.” When have you been part of a group, in church, school, work or elsewhere, where this kind of love and mutual caring existed? Have you ever suffered from belonging to groups where love and mutual caring were conspicuously absent? Has being part of this group helped you to learn more fully to truly celebrate with someone else who is receiving praise, or to share another person’s pain?
- Read John 15:12-17. Jesus lived, and taught his followers to live, a steadfast love expressed by the Greek word “agape.” He told his disciples he didn’t call them servants, but friends. And the main “fruit” he asked them to bear was to live in God’s love by loving one another. But when Jesus said his new commandment was to love each other “just as I have loved you,” that took agape “love” to a whole different level of sacrifice and commitment. How did Jesus' words and example highlight the profound difference between “liking” and the kind of love he offered and called us to? What, in practical terms, does it mean for you to love others as Jesus loves you?
- Read Acts 2:42-47. Pastor Adam said, “Listen again to what those first Christians did: The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the COMMUNITY, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. The word in capital letters, COMMUNITY, renders the Greek word KOINONIA, which meant sharing life with, community, friendship, fellowship, caring for one another. In our social distancing we sometimes lost this. In our digital world that has made everything convenient, the casualty can be koinonia….
I’m reminded of the Genesis creation story–the very first time in Scripture when God says something is not good. He sees the man alone in the garden and says, “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make for him a helper as his companion.” That is not just about marriage, it is about koinonia. God’s answer to our need was one-anothering.
We were made for relationships. And we have to be intentional about welcoming people into those relationships. Whether you do this online, or you do it in person, Christ calls us to Koinonia. We have to rediscover the power of one-anothering.” As you live this out in your group, how can you also share its importance with others?
Lord Jesus, you didn’t try to carry out your world-changing, world-saving mission all alone. You called a group of people to join you in that mission. You sent your Spirit to continue calling people into koinonia, into the body of Christ. Now that is our calling—to find ways together to support, encourage and uplift one another, and to invite others into that same type of life-changing connection with you and with one another. Be our example and our guide as we do this. Amen.