Reflection Questions for 4/15/2018 Sermon on II Samuel 9:1-13 “God Likes You: Mephibosheth”
- Pastor Jeff said that Mephibosheth was identified by outside things: people looked at him and proverbially judged the book by its cover. When people you don’t know well look at your life in such a shallow way, what do they see? How does this impact your own view of yourself?
- The word hesed, a complex Hebrew word roughly translated as kindness, love, or lovingkindness, is used multiple times in this passage. God had shown David hesed by choosing him, a shepherd boy, to become king. David turned around and showed Mephibosheth hesed. Who in your life has shown you hesed? How are you inspired to pass on this kindness?
- Mephibosheth was the kind of guy who wouldn’t have been welcome in public places because of his handicap and his political status; but David was radically hospitable to him. Who are some people in our culture who are unwelcome in certain places (i.e., the homeless, the mentally ill, the handicapped)? How can we at Wesley Memorial be radically hospitable to these folks?
Reflection Questions for 4/8/2018 Sermon on John 20:19-29 “Doubting Thomas?”
- “Peace be with you” (in the original language: Shalom) is repeated numerous times throughout this passage. Pastor Jeff said that shalom does not simply mean the absence of conflict, but the presence of God’s fullness of life. What is the difference? How would our lives and our relationships be different if we focused not on conflict-resolution but on seeking shalom for one another?
- Pastor Jeff hinted that Doubting Thomas might be more properly called Questioning Thomas. Both here and elsewhere (see John 14), Thomas asks questions– and Jesus does not begrudge him those questions, but rather answers them graciously! What do you think about asking questions about our faith? Does it seem sacrilegious or faithless to you? What are some questions you and your group have about theology and faith? (We want to hear them! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Pastor Jeff said that what makes us the church is not what we say or sing, or even what we believe or do. Rather, what makes us the church is the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, moving among us. Do you agree with this? What do you believe the movement of the Spirit is calling us to do?
Reflection Questions for 4/1/2018 (Easter Sunday) Sermon on Mark 16:1-8
- Pastor Jeff said that we celebrate not that they found an empty tomb, but that they found a risen Jesus. What’s the difference? Why is this an important distinction for our faith?
- Jesus’s resurrection is first made known to a group of women, and then the angel singles out Peter– who had just denied Him!– to receive the Good News (see verse 7). It seems clear that Jesus wanted the so-called “lesser” folks to know the Good News first. Why? Who might be among these perceived “lesser” people today? What does this mean for our evangelism?
- This last one is an activity, and not a question! After 40 Lenten days of not saying “Hallelujah,” we can now say it again! As a group, write a short (one phrase or sentence) prayer of praise containing the word “Hallelujah!” Text or email the prayer to the whole group so everyone has a copy. Try to pray this prayer each day of the 50-day season of Easter, which ends May 20.
Here’s an example:
“Hallelujah, for Christ is risen and my life will never be the same! Amen.”
Reflection Questions for 3/18/2018 (Palm Sunday) Sermon on Mark 11:1-11 (The Triumphal Entry)
- “Hosanna” is Hebrew for “Save now!” The Jews in Jesus’ day needed to be saved from the oppression of the Roman Empire. What do you need to be saved from? What does our culture need to be saved from? What about other people you know, or people in High Point?
- Jesus’s Triumphal Entry was an echo of an earlier triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. All the folks waving palm branches at Jesus would have been remembering the story of Simon, a Jewish general, triumphantly entering Jerusalem after laying siege to the city and expelling its Gentile occupiers. Read the story in 1 Maccabees 13:41-53* (note especially verse 51!). If this is what’s on the mind of the people shouting “Hosanna!”, what do you think they’re expecting of Jesus? How will he disappoint them by the end of the week?
- Holy Week every year is a sort of reenactment of the last week of Jesus’s life. We wave the branches on Palm Sunday like those early believers did; we strip the altar bare on Maundy Thursday to represent the betrayal and humiliation of crucifixion; we read the story of Jesus’ death on Good Friday; and we hold a vigil in darkness on Holy Saturday as we remember Jesus in the tomb. Why is it important that we “reenact” this every year? Why is it important that we remember the hard parts of the story alongside the happier parts like Easter, Christmas, and Pentecost?
*1 Maccabees is a book found in the Apocrypha, a set of books written between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Many of our Bible don’t include these books, but that doesn’t mean we can’t prayerfully read them and take wisdom from them.
Reflection Questions for 3/18/2018 Sermon on John 12:20-33
- This is the last week of Lent before Holy Week. Pastor Erin shared in the contemporary services that Lent has begun to drag for her. How is your fast going? What successes or failures have you had? How has your spiritual life been enriched by this discipline?
- Tradition calls the Friday of Jesus’s crucifixion “Good Friday,” because the cross is where we believe our salvation was achieved. However, some theologians argue that it was through Jesus’s resurrection that we were saved, or through his incarnation (birth, becoming human), or even through simply living a perfectly holy life. What do you think?
- Pastor Jeff said that Christ’s humbling himself to death on a cross “perfectly reveals God’s nature” to us. What can you determine about God’s character by thinking about Jesus’s willing death on the cross? What does it tell you about what it means to be Christlike?
Reflection Questions for 3/11/2018 Sermon on I Corinthians 1:26 – 2:5
- Pastor Jeff said that the “organizing principle” or the “master story” of St. Paul’s life was the story of Jesus’s crucifixion. If we organized our lives in that way, how would they be different? What other “master stories” or “organizing principles” do we or others in our world base their lives on (e.g., the American Dream or being the perfect housewife)?
- In our Contemporary Worship space, our altar Sunday morning consisted of the disassembled beams of the cross laid across sawhorses– as though the cross is currently under construction, being prepared for Holy Week, when Christ will once again hang upon it. How is this symbolic of the Lenten journey? Is God constructing a cross for you to carry (see Matthew 16:24-26)?
- Pastor Jeff described four main characteristics of The Cruciform (cross-shaped, or Christ-like) Life. How are these attainable in our lives today?
- The Cruciform Life is Marked By:
- Seeking the Shalom (welfare, highest good) of others
- Extravagant Hospitality
- A Commitment to Non-Retaliation
Reflection Questions for 3/4/2018 Sermon on John 2:13-17
- Our Scripture text today shows a side of Jesus we might describe as angry. In today’s “Age of Anger” it is easy to become angry in negative ways– wrath, rage, or irrational anger. Paul says in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry, but do not sin.” How can we be angry in productive ways, or at least in ways that are not sinful?
- In Contemporary Worship, Pastor Erin preached that Jesus was “disruptive.” Share where you’re experiencing disruption right now in your life. Is God doing the disrupting? Or how can your faith grow in light of this interruption or change?
- In Traditional Worship, Pastor Jeff preached about how the money changers and animal sellers at the Temple took advantage of folks. They were treating worshipers as objects, not people– in God’s name and in God’s holy Temple! Jeff referenced the book Leadership and Self-Deception, which describes our tendency to treat people as objects. When have you treated people as objects? When have you been treated as an object? What does Jesus’s righteous anger on behalf of the objectified show us about God’s desire for our life together?
Reflection Questions for 2/25/2018 Sermon on Mark 8:27-38
- Pastor Jared said that Jesus is “a different kind of Messiah.” He was not what the Jews, the disciples, or even we, expected. How else– in the Bible, in the world, and in your life– has God acted in unexpected ways?
- Our Prayer of Confession was this:
Most holy and merciful God, you ask, “Who do you say that I am?”
We confess that we have failed to answer with the truth.
Too often we have said you are merely
A comfort, to ease our pain;
A help, to solve our problems;
A safety net, to save our souls.
But with the disciples we speak the truth now: You are the Messiah.
Forgive us for the ways we have ignored your holy callings:
Not merely to be comforted, but to comfort others.
Not to have an easy life, but to seek you in all things.
Not to wait for Heaven, but to build your Kingdom here and now.
Free us from our false confessions, that we might joyfully proclaim with Peter:
“You are the Messiah.” Amen.
What other things like “help,” “comforter,” or “safety net” would we often prefer to call God? What makes “Messiah” such a different name and why was/is it so important for Peter and for us to name Jesus as such?
- Pastor Jared suggested that “self” (i.e., selfishness, self-interest) is the root of much sin. How could we change our lives and our world if we moved from self-interest to self- sacrifice?
Reflection Questions for 2/18/2018 Sermon on Matthew 4:1-11, “The Devil’s Boot Don’t Creak”
- C.S. Lewis said that sin comes from placing an inordinate amount of love or emphasis on anything other than God. Can even good things become sinful in this way?
- This is the first of the five Sundays of Lent, the church’s annual season of confession, repentance, and renewal. If you have given something up for Lent (as Christians often do), share that with the group. If you haven’t chosen anything to give up, try to think of something– good or bad– in your life that you love or emphasize more than God. How might you “give that up” or try to de-emphasize it in your life during Lent?
- Pastor Jeff said that Jesus came to conquer the world; indeed, to “take back occupied territory.” In what ways is the world, and your life, occupied by things or people other than God? How is Jesus at work in “taking back” your life and our world?
Reflection Questions for 2/11/2018 Sermon on John 10:11-18, “The Listening Sheep”
- There are some people whose voices we can identify without even seeing their faces. Our parents, Oprah, our favorite newscaster. Who else’s voice can you identify easily? What makes their voices so distinguishable to you?
- Sheep know the voice of their shepherd; so too we ought to know the voice of our God. Interestingly, shepherds sometimes are able to distinguish between the calls of different sheep. Think of how a parent can identify her child’s unique cry out of a nursery full of babies. What does it mean to you that God knows your voice?
- This sermon was the conclusion of our series “God Is Still Speaking.” How has this series inspired you to listen for God’s voice in new ways?