Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of March 1, 2020

How to Step Up

John Ray

) (NETMark 9:30-37

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

Seeking to “be great” is not necessarily a bad thing. How and why we do it is critical. 

GROUP DISCUSSION

Our passage this week seems to pose four big questions, some more obvious than others: What is real about life? What does it mean to be great? Who are the really great people? How does one become great? Talk about how Jesus answers these questions and how we, or society, might answer them.

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Why did you become a Christian? Why are you one now? It’s easy to think our motives are pure, or at least mostly alright. But consider how Jesus’ words in our text this week line up with our motivations. Consider these words specifically: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”  Pay attention to how these words sit with you, the emotions they generate. What work do we need to do in aligning our imagination and intentions with those of Jesus? 

RESOURCES

  • Commentary from Working Preacher here and here, and podcast here 

  • If you’re new to Lenten observance, you might be wondering what it’s all about. Central Seminary President Molly Marshall breaks it down here.

  • In an Ash Wednesday devotional, Brian Zahnd shares some thoughts about the way of the Cross.

  • Once again, our friends at CCCA and Biola are doing their exceptional devotional series for Lent.

  • Another Lent resource from Christian Community Development Association

 

LOOKING AHEAD 

Next week we look at one of Jesus’ most famous encounters, his conversation with a man often called “the rich young ruler”. In the text, Jesus converses with a wealthy man who has observed the law, but is desperate to know what it takes to find eternal life. Read about it in Mark 10:17-31.

ODDS AND ENDS

Church in the age of coronavirus.

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of March 8, 2020

Embracing Paradox

Ryan Jackson

) (NETMark 10:17-31

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

In order for us to live according to the ultimate reality that is God, we must be willing to embrace the paradoxes that permeate our lives, our scriptures, and our experience of grace. 

GROUP DISCUSSION

  • Where in your life do you notice or experience paradox? Where in scripture have you come across paradox?

  • In what areas do you find it most difficult to accept and embrace the messiness of paradox? What areas are easiest to accept?

  • How does the idea of experiencing grace as paradox (“to save your life, you must lose it” and “the last shall be first” and “what is impossible with man is possible with God”) hit you? What does that mean to you for living a Christian life?

  • What are some of the good things in life you have learned to give up or are learning to give up in order to see and experience Jesus?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Spend some time thinking about your favorite story characters, be it from movies, books, history or other. What are their flaws and shortcomings? What are their redeemable qualities that make you root for their success? Spend a few minutes in prayer asking God to allow you to accept the flaws you see in yourself, celebrate your strengths, and to be able to do the same for those in your life--especially difficult people.

RESOURCES

  • The paradox of being uncool and the rich young ruler by Nadia Bolz-Weber

  • Four mistakes of the rich young ruler with Chris E. W. Green

  • Narrative Lectionary commentary here and podcast here

  • The importance of learning how to die 

  • Lent Reflection from March 3rd based on Matthew’s telling of this encounter

  • $3 Worth of God, a poem by Wilbur Rees

 

LOOKING AHEAD 

Next week, the text leads us even more into presenting Jesus as Messiah. Jesus tells his followers of his impending execution, for which they have no context or concept of, rightfully so. And it gives us a dialogue that shows us why Jesus came to earth. Read about it in Mark 10:32-52.

 

 

 

Grace Church Learning Guide

Week of March 15, 2020

Seeing Clearly in a Time of Confusion

John Ray

)Mark 10: 32 - 52 (NET

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a PDF of the Learning Guide, Click Here.

THE BIG IDEA

Jesus offers us the ultimate clarity in times of confusion. 

GROUP DISCUSSION

Look - none of us what to end up at the back of the line. We all like to think we are selfless, generous, gracious, and then suddenly there is a run on toilet paper and we all start acting like animals. In all seriousness, we seem to have an endless ability to deal with ourselves as we really are. Jesus knows this. What do you see in the disciples question? What do you see in Jesus’ response? Here’s an interesting thought experiment, imagine if this took place in our current situation. What do you think the disciples would be asking for? What would Jesus instead be offering? 

PERSONAL REFLECTION

In our text this week Mark 10:32-52, we see two cases of “blindness”; one in Bartimaeus, and one in the disciples lack of understanding of what will happen to Jesus and what they ask Jesus for. Take time this week and consider what it is you ask Jesus for the most. Is it status, privilege, control and comfort or is it mercy? Is it primarily for yourself or for others? What do your questions say about you? 

RESOURCES

 

LOOKING AHEAD 

Jesus talks in parables and takes on taxes in Mark 12:1-17.

MARCH 22

10:15 I Facebook Live

 

UTTERLY AMAZED

Well friends, we’re all one week into the national emergency due to the COVID-19 virus. How y’all doing? I’m sure the answers are all over the board. And our answers say much about us — things like where we work, what personality type we have, where we gather our information. But most importantly, this is a great time to find out what we truly value. Testing has a way of making some things clear to us that we can’t see when life is easy, when nothing is asked of us. And what is testing but a time of being asked for things? Let’s dig in this week and see how Jesus handles this, and what it has to teach us, and let’s see why his answers let the crowds utterly amazed.

MUS-IC

Unashamed Love (Lamont Hiebert)

You’re calling me to lay aside the worries of my day

To quiet down my busy mind and find a hiding place

Worthy, You are worthy

 

I open up my heart and let my spirit worship Yours

I open up my mouth and let a song of praise come forth

Worthy You are Worthy

 

Of a childlike faith and of my honest praise

And of my unashamed love

Of a holy life and of Your sacrifice

And of my unashamed love

Worthy, You are worthy

Joy Of The Lord (Rend Collective)
Though tears may fall, my song will rise, my song will rise to You
Though my heart may fail, my song will rise, my song will rise to You
While there’s breath in my lungs I will praise You, Lord
In the dead of night, l lift my eyes, l lift my eyes to You
When the waters rise, l lift my eyes, l lift my eyes to You
While there's hope in my heart I will praise You, Lord

 

The joy of the Lord is my strength! The joy of the Lord is my
strength!
In the darkness I'll dance, in the shadows I'll sing
The joy of the Lord is my strength!

 

When I cannot see You with my eyes, Let faith arise to You
When I cannot feel Your hand in mine, Let faith arise to You
God of mercy and love, I will praise You, Lord
Oh You shine with glory Lord of light, I feel alive with You
In Your presence now I come alive, I am alive with You
There is strength when I say, I will praise You, Lord

 

When sorrow comes my way, You are the shield around me
Always, You remain, like courage in the fight
I hear You call my name, Jesus, I am coming
Walking on the waves, Reaching for Your light!

I Surrender All

All to Jesus I surrender

All to Him I freely give

I will ever love and trust Him

In His presence daily live

 

I surrender all

I surrender all

All to Thee my blessed Savior

I surrender all

 

All to Jesus I surrender

Make me Savior wholly Thine

Let me feel the Holy Spirit

Truly know that Thou art mine

 

All to Jesus I surrender

Lord I give myself to Thee

Fill me with Thy love and power

Let Thy blessing fall on me

 

SPEAK UP/QUESTION of the WEEK

(type your response on the Grace Facebook Live page)

What’s one thing you’ve started doing since the COVID 19 emergency that you weren’t doing before?

 

CALL TO WORSHIP

Welcome, Grace family, to this sacred space and time. Let’s pause,

take a deep breath and make space. 

 

If you entered with fear today, gently set it aside, for with God there is nothing to fear.

 

If you entered with shame today, release it, for God does not define you by shame.

 

If you entered with pain today, acknowledge it, for God cares about your pain.

 

Grace Church, we invite God the Spirit into our whole lives this morning.

 

May the love of God heal us.

May the grace of God unite us.

May the wisdom of God guide us.                                                              May the passion of God send us. 

 

In the name of God, Our Creator; Christ,

Our Redeemer; and God, the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

TEACHING: Find the passage here

The Big Idea:

What do we value? Testing helps us find out.

  • Questions for personal reflection:How’s your heart in all this? When you consider all the concerns you have, what does it say about what you value? As you pause and seek to listen to God the Holy Spirit, what are you hearing? 

  • Questions for small group discussion: (*Note: You can facilitate a group discussion via a Google hangout, posting the question in a group chat or other creative ways.)

    • What reasons do you think the tenants in the vineyard gave to justify abusing and then killing the owner’s servants and son? What do you think it means to be created in the image of God?

MUS-IC

Yahweh  (Shawn McDonald)

(English and Swahili translation)
You alone are worthy (Wewe peke yake unastahili)
You alone are worthy (Wewe peke yake unastahili)
Of all that I am (Ya yote naliyo nayo)
Of all that I am (Ya yote naliyo nayo)
Beautiful is Your name (nzuri ni jina lako)
Beautiful is Your name, Yahweh

 

Wonderful is Your name (Ajabu ni jina lako)
Wonderful is Your name, Yahweh

Doxology (David Crowder)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures hear below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost
Amen

 

 

COMMUNION/REFLECTION/OFFERING

  • During this time, those gathered in homes should use the elements they have with them as we take communion together. We believe communion is an open table, welcoming all who are seeking Jesus. 

    • The link for giving your offering is here.

    • Use this time to reflect and commit to ask on what God the Holy Spirit is showing you during this time.

 

 

BENEDICTION

Grace Church, go now in peace and in the awareness of the image in which you are made, the deep love and mercy you have been shown. In the same way, seek to love and show mercy to others. Share what you have because of what you have received. Consider the needs of others as though they are your own needs. Give honor to those who are the most vulnerable and have the least to offer back. Welcome the stranger and the wanderer. Learn the deep lessons we are being offered. In the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: 

  • What might God have to teach us in uncertain times? JD Walt has some ideas.

 

 

BONUS: Good Mood Food

Italy teaches the world to sing, and Canada reminds us how to care.

 

Explore our archive of  Worship Guides here

MARCH 29

10:15 I Facebook Live

 

WHAT ARE WE REALLY AFRAID OF?

There are some people you encounter in the midst of trials — stormy seasons — who take you in and give you secure shelter. Mike and Darcy Hansen are that kind of friends. The Hansen house was my home away from home during seminary, and Darcy jumped into her own program there as I was finishing up. She’s gone on and is currently working on her Doctor of Ministry degree in Leadership and Global Perspective. And I think we would all agree getting some perspective would be a good thing right now. See y’all on Sunday. Grace and peace.

SPEAK UP/QUESTION of the WEEK

(type your response on the Grace Facebook Live page)

In our quarantined world, what’s one practical way you are loving your neighbors?

MUS-IC

Ain't No Grave (Claude Ely, Molly Skaggs, Jonathan David Helser, Melissa Helser)

Shame is a prison as cruel as a grave

Shame is a robber and he’s come to take my name

Love is my redeemer lifting me up from the ground

Love is the power where my freedom song is found

There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down

There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down

When I hear that trumpet sound, I’m gonna rise up out of the ground

There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down

Fear is a liar with a smooth and velvet tongue

Fear is a tyrant, he’s always telling me to run

Love is resurrection and love is a trumpet sound

Love is my weapon, I’m gonna take my giants down

There was a battle, a war between death and life

There on a tree the Lamb of God was crucified   

He went on down to hell, He took back every key

He rose up as a lion and He’s setting all the captives free

There ain’t no grave could hold His body down

There ain’t no grave could hold His body down

When He heard the trumpet sound, He rose up out of the ground

There ain’t no grave could hold His body down

There ain’t no grave could hold His body down

 

There ain’t no grave could hold my body down

There ain’t no grave could hold my body down

If You walked out of the grave, I’m walkin’ too

They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love (Jars of Clay)

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they'll know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah, they'll know we are Christians by our love.

Yeshua

Praise the One who has saved me from death

He is God, He is good, He is Jesus

Praise the One who has saved me from death

He is God, He is good, he is Jesus

Yeshua, I love You

Yeshua, I love You


TEACHING: Find the passage here

The Big Idea:

The Big Idea: Only those who experience and rest in the abiding love of God can fully love God, others, and themselves.

 

This graph maps out the flow of church history.

  • In the quiet of the day, do you hear the whisper of God? What is God saying? What emotions does it stir within you? 

  • What ideals/practices/things shape your Christian identity?

  • In what ways have these identifiers hindered or helped your ability to love God, others, or yourself? 

  • Which of these, if any, is God asking you to release so that you can receive and share more of God’s love? 

  • Question for small-group discussion (you can facilitate a group conversation in the way that works best for you — Google hangout, Zoom or social media, for example): Take some time this week to share with your Grace Group what you have experienced during your time of personal reflection.

MUS-IC

Christ Has No Body/Of Good Courage
Christ has no body now but yours

No hands, no feet on earth but yours

Yours are the eyes by which he sees

yours are the feet with which he walks

Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world

 

So be strong and of good courage

Fear not nor be afraid

For the Lord your God goes with you

He will not leave you won't forsake you.

Your Labor is Not in Vain (The Porter's Gate)

Your labor is not in vain
Though the ground underneath you is cursed and stained
Your planting and reaping are never the same
Your labor is not in vain
Your labor is not unknown
Though the rocks they cry out and the sea it may groan
The place of your toil may not seem like a home
But Your labor is not unknown
I am with you, I am with you
I am with you, I am with you
For I have called you, called you by name
Your labor is not in vain
The vineyards you plant will bear fruit
The fields will sing out and rejoice with the truth
For all that is old will at last be made new
The vineyards you plant will bear fruit
I am with you, I am with you
I am with you, I am with you
For I have called you, called you by name
Your labor is not in vain
I am with you, oh I am with you
Oh I am with you, oh I am with you
For I have called you, called you by name
Your labor is not in vain

COMMUNION/REFLECTION/OFFERING

  • During this time, those gathered in homes should use the elements they have with them as we take communion together. We believe communion is an open table, welcoming all who seek Jesus. Use the elements you have at home as we take communion together. 

    • The link for giving your offering is here.

    • Use this time to reflect and commit to ask on what God the Holy Spirit is showing you during this time.

 

 

BENEDICTION

Grace Church, while we may be separated physically, we are made one in the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord. May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith — that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. You are not alone. You have never been alone and never will be alone. Go in peace in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

FOR THE KIDS

When Jesus told us it is important to love our neighbor, who is he talking about?

 

Get a piece of paper, and draw a small circle in the middle of it. Draw a bigger circle around the first circle, and keep making circles until you reach the edge of your piece of paper.

 

Now, think: Who lives in your house? Write their names in the very first circle you drew, or summarize it to “family!”


In the next circle around the first one you drew, think about your closest neighbors. Write their names in that circle. Now think beyond your street … who are your neighbors down the road?  Keep going, filling in the people who live outside your own home, and out of your neighborhood to your city, state, nation, etc.!

 

Do you think Jesus wants our kindness and the kingdom of God to stop at our nation’s borders? Share your creation with us on our Facebook page, or email it here , and you’ll find a surprise in your mailbox next week!  

 

Enjoy this read-aloud to further inspire you!  

 

A famous artist, Wassily Kandinsky, created art that used concentric circles.  Create your own, and think about how connected we can all be as neighbors as you create your own concentric-circle art piece. You can use oil pastels and black paper, white paper, crayons, markers, or paints. Share your masterpiece with us on our Grace Church NWA Facebook page!

FOR FURTHER REFLECTION

 

BONUS: Good Mood Food

Just smile and wave, boys.