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Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of February 2, 2020

The Blood and the Body

Baylea Cantrell

Mark 5:21-43 (NET)

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

Jesus leaves in his wake a path of restored creation where the voiceless tell their stories, fathers rejoice in their daughters, and everyone gets new life.

GROUP DISCUSSION

The bleeding woman had no intention of interrupting Jesus. He’s the one who sidelined the mission of going to heal Jarius’ daughter and took the time to connect with the Woman. This seems like the good and right thing to do however it doesn't seem quite fair to Jarius who is desperate for Jesus to heal his daughter. There is a tension there. How does that sit with you? Are you able to recognize need when you see it? Are you willing to interrupt your life to let those in need be seen and heard? 

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Reading through this passage the phrase “The Whole Truth” kept catching my eye. The woman was willing to let Jesus see her “whole truth”-all of the hurt and all of the shame. Are you willing to let yourself be “seen” like that? For myself. I have found the experience of telling my whole truth to be utterly terrifying and at the same time, I’ve never felt  more accepted or loved. Jesus does cool things with our vulnerability. In your journal, make a three-column division with these headings:  The Need, The Faith, Revealed About Jesus.  Go back to the scripture and make notes under those columns.  Now, consider your own transformation-encompassing the past, present, or future, make notes about your need, your faith, and how Jesus is being revealed to you.  

RESOURCES

LOOKING AHEAD 

Next week, as Jesus continues on his way, we see the reception that the people in his hometown give him, his commissioning of his disciples to go out and minister, and the persecution his cousin and predecessor John the Baptist faces for speaking truth to power. Read about it in Mark 6:1-29. .

 

 

ODDS AND ENDS

 

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of February 9, 2020

Crawdaddies and Elephants

Alex Cornett

Mark 6:1-29 (NET)

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

The road to belief is marked with many distractions and pitfalls.  One of the largest might be what we already know or “think” we know to be true.  The 3 subplots occurring in Mark’s account this week, in a way, deal with a seeming inability to be open to a change in belief.  That change often comes with a cost.

GROUP DISCUSSION

  • What barriers to belief exist for us today?

  • What barriers to belief might we be inadvertently putting in place for others?

  • How do we, as individuals and as a church, guard ourselves from falling prey to assuming we have the answer?  Being open to the ways God is working?

  • Group Activity:  Give your group a target of $34.00 and have them go buy everything at the grocery store they need to feed their family for a week.  This is the amount of money available for groceries for someone living in poverty.  Great opportunity to have your family do it in advance of the group meeting and describe the experience.  Include your kids.

PERSONAL REFLECTION

As we continue looking at the gospel of Mark, we are still in the section of the book where Jesus is communicating in word and deed who he is. We’ve seen different miracles and signs he has completed, as well as some of his teachings. This week's text from Mark 6 reminds us how hard it is sometimes for us to move from our position or what we believe to be true.  Very often it takes courage and resilience to have our beliefs changed, particularly when group-think can pull us back into the tub. Where have you encountered this in your life, in others or in yourself? The people of Jesus’ hometown (and his own family) could not get past what they believed to be true, to imagine what was standing in front of them might be different.

RESOURCES

  • Commentary from Working Preacher here and podcast here 

LOOKING AHEAD 

Next week, we look at a text in which Jesus is in confrontation with power brokers of his day, as they ask him why he and his followers do not follow their Jewish traditions, traditions that are scripturally inspired that they’ve stretched to call a scriptural command. And Jesus makes it clear that their making commandments were there is none is not something he’s interested in obliging for them. Read about it in Mark 7:1-23.

 

 

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Other ways of knowing? 

  • What authority does this person have in evangelism and teaching?!  There’s nothing new under the sun as the crowd questioned Jesus, and we question those seeking to share the gospel today.

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of February 16, 2020

Hearts Far Away

John Ray

Mark 7:1-23 (NET)

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

It’s all about the heart. And the heart will eventually be revealed in what comes out. 

GROUP DISCUSSION

It’s important to consider here that Jesus is not “anti-ritual.” The problem is not necessarily what the Pharisees were doing, but where they were being led by the rituals they practiced. What about us? Consider our practices — not only what we do in church, or our devotions, but all of our rituals. Where are they taking us? What is it that is “coming out of” our lives? Do we see the connections? Is there anywhere we’ve taken pride in keeping a practice or ritual, but gotten an unintended result from it? What about as a group? As we continue to give more attention to serving the needs of others, what habits and practices are helping that? Where are we missing out? 

PERSONAL REFLECTION

What do others see in you? We are often the worst judge of how our behaviors, attitudes and actions are affecting others. We can be overly hard or completely oblivious. Take time this week to find someone you trust, someone who will be really honest with you, and ask them what they see coming out of your heart. Humbly listen, and respond as appropriate.

RESOURCES

  • Commentary from the folks at Narrative Lectionary here and here, and podcast here

  • Interesting interview with James KA Smith on being formed by ritual 

  • Lectio Divina reading and reflection on Mark 7:1-13 

  • Richard Rohr offers thoughts about how our point of view shapes the way we understand Scripture, for better or worse.

LOOKING AHEAD 

Next week, we look at a text in which Jesus is in confrontation with power brokers of his day, as they ask him why he and his followers do not follow their Jewish traditions, traditions that are scripturally inspired that they’ve stretched to call a scriptural command. And Jesus makes it clear that their making commandments were there is none is not something he’s interested in obliging for them. Read about it in Mark 7:1-23.

 

 

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of February 23, 2020

Confession

John Ray

Mark 8:27-9:8 (NET)

 

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

Jesus further reveals who he is and shows us the response this demands. 

GROUP DISCUSSION

This week’s text offers up a fantastic outline for discussion. What are some of the ways the world thinks about and defines Jesus? What about us? What does it mean to “lose our lives” for Jesus’ sake? What is the significance of the transfiguration in the context of these questions? Bonus discussion: How are y’all going to recognize Lent this year? As a group and as individuals? Have fun, y’all.

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Take some time to sit and listen to this song. Maybe let it loop a couple of times. Pay attention to the emotions and thoughts that come up while listening. Afterwards, reread these words slowly, imagining Jesus is speaking directly to you: “Then Jesus and his disciples went to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ They said, ‘John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others, one of the prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’” What is your answer? Say it out loud.

RESOURCES

  • Commentary from Narrative Lectionary here and here, and podcast here

 

LOOKING AHEAD 

Next week, we see Jesus subtly but not so subtly foreshadow what His life on earth exists for and how it will end. And reasonably so, His close followers, the disciples, weren’t sure what to do with this. But they begin to discuss who among them will have the choice seats in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus’ response to this is not what we might expect. Read about it in John 9:30-37.

ODDS AND ENDS

Wanna do something incredible this summer? How about spending three days studying with NT Wright? 

Resources for Lent: Two of my favorite devotional books for Lent.