20 December - Unexpected Love

20 December, 2020 Rev Brian Hoole

READ

Luke 1:26-38 (47-55)

Here’s what happens.

The angel appears to Mary and tells her the good news that she is to give birth to the

Saviour of the world .In verses 47-55 Mary responds with her prayer that is used below.

DISCUSS

1. How has your week been? How have you seen God at work?

2. How did you experience joy over the past week.?

3. Give thanks for how you have seen God at work and the progress you made last week?

4. What does this passage tell us about God?

5. What does it tells us or challenge us about the Christian life?

6. Mary demonstrated courage to say yes to God. What do you need to have courage for this week?

7. Who do you need to tell about Jesus, and the good news this week?

8. What are you going to do about this in the coming week?

PRAY

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,

for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him

from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Luke 1:47-55

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13 December - Joy in All Circumstances

13 December, 2020 Rev Brian Hoole

READ

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Here’s what happens.

Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to rejoice, pray and give thanks at all times and in all places. This is not about how we feel but rather how we decide to act.

DISCUSS

1. How has your week been? How have you seen God at work?

2. How did you go with the idols and distractions that you named last week.?

3. Give thanks for how you have seen God at work and the progress you made last week?

4. What does this passage tell us about God?

5. What does it tells us or challenge us about the Christian life?

6. What are the things that currently give you joy?

7. What are the hard things or people that you find it difficult to experience joy or give thanks for?

8. What are the things that hold you back from being thankful?

9. What are the things that hold you back from being prayerful?

10. What are you going to do about that in the coming week.

PRAY

God of all blessings,

source of all life, giver of all grace:

We thank you for the gift of life:

for the breath that sustains life,

for the food of this earth that nurtures life,

for the love of family and friends

without which there would be no life.

We thank you for the mystery of creation:

for the beauty that the eye can see,

for the joy that the ear may hear,

for the unknown that we cannot behold filling the universe with wonder,

for the expanse of space that draws us beyond the definitions of our selves.

We thank you for setting us in communities:

for families who nurture our becoming,

for friends who love us by choice,

for companions at work, who share our burdens and daily tasks,

for strangers who welcome us into their midst,

for people from other lands who call us to grow in understanding,

for children who lighten our moments with delight,

for the unborn, who offer us hope for the future.

We thank you for this day: for life and one more day to love,

for opportunity and one more day to work for justice and peace,

for neighbours and one more person to love and by whom be loved,

for your grace and one more experience of your presence,

for your promise: to be with us, to be our God, and to give salvation.

For these, and all blessings,

we give you thanks, eternal, loving God,

through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Vienna Cobb Anderson

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15 November- We Are Strong With God

15 November, 2020

READ: Judges 6-7

Here’s what happens…

Gideon is hiding from his enemies when an angel appears, calls Gideon a mighty hero, and instructs him to go into battle. Although Gideon is weak in his own strength, he takes a large army into battle. But God whittles the army down to a very small one to show it’s God’s power that wins the battle.

Memory Verse

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).

DISCUSS

- What stands out for you in this bible passage?

- When was a time that you were afraid but you were able to accomplish the task with God’s help?

- When was the last time you sat in silence with God?

- Has there been a time in your life where you have witnessed God giving someone the strength they need in a certain circumstance?

- What’s something you’ve done that took all your strength? Maybe taking a super long hike, lifting something heavy, or doing something nobody thought you could do. Tell your partner about it.

- What would you be willing to do if you knew it would make you stronger?

- What do you think God is saying to you? What can you do about it?

PRAY

Dear God, Thank you. Thank you that we can learn about you, share what we learn freely with others and ask questions openly about you without real fear of persecution. We thank you for the world that you have created for us and that we can see Joy in tough times, love in the smile of a stranger and Hope in the dawning of a new day. God, thank you for making us strong! When we feel weak or afraid, help us remember that we are strong with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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8 November- We Are God's Masterpiece

8 November, 2020 Rev Brian Hoole

READ

Genesis 2:4-7, 18-23; Psalm 8

Here’s what happens.

God creates human beings in his image. He takes dust and breathes his very breath into humankind. Making him as the crown of his creation, and then created Eve to share with Adam. Man is given stewardship of the earth and for that we should be thankful

Memory Verse

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).

DISCUSS

1. Share how you responded to God’s plan for your life over the past week.

2. How do you understand creation is it literal, or a fairy-tale or somewhere in between? Explain

3. What parts of creation do you find the most beautiful?

4. What does it mean to say that human beings are the crown of creation?

5. Humankind are called to be stewards of the earth. What does that mean?

6. How do you demonstrate your stewardship

a) over creation

b) your possessions.

c) your talents and gifts

7. What is there that you can do this week to demonstrate being a good steward of what God has given you. Share this and be prepared to share next week how it went.

PRAY

Creator God, you formed us from the dust of the earth, and reveal your fingerprints in all flesh. Teach us your deep wisdom in the order and beauty of all that you have made. When our care for your creation is found wanting, reprove and reform us, so that our footprints may be more gentle on the earth, tending and keeping it as your own handiwork, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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1 November- We have a purpose

1 November, 2020 Rev Brian Hoole

READ

Esther 4:5-17, 9:18-22

Here’s what happens.

Esther, a Jewish woman, is chosen to become queen, but King Xerxes doesn’t know she’s Jewish. Meanwhile, King Xerxes’ right-hand man, Haman, is trying to kill all the Jews! Esther’s cousin Mordecai tells Esther that she has a purpose: to save the Jews. Esther uses her position as queen to denounce Haman and thwart a plot and so saves her people. As a result the Jews institute the feast of Purim to remember how God used Esther to save his people.

DISCUSS

1. Share what you did last week to respond to recognising Jesus as both fully human and fully divine.

2.Have you ever felt like Esther having little control over events that happen in your life?

3. Do you believe that God has placed you where you are now for a purpose? Think in terms of work, family and church.

4. Why do you think God has placed you where you are now, and what are you going to do about it?

5. Esther is called to take a risk to fulfil God’s plan? Are you being asked to take any risks and what are they?

6. Esther relied upon advice from Hegai, the king’s eunuch and Mordecai. Who are your trusted advisors? Who do you look to for advice

7. Though it’s not mentioned, the story of Esther is a part of God’s plan for the world. How are you and your life a part of that plan?

8. What is there that you can do this week to respond to God’s plan or your part in God’s plan? Share this and be prepared to share next week how it went.

PRAY

The following prayer are the words of Esther as recorded in the Apocrapha that adds several chapters to the book of Esther. I include this prayer in its entirety acknowledging these are Esther’s words but they have relevance for you and I today. May Esther’s prayer be our prayer.

Let us pray

“My Lord, you alone are our king. Help me! I have no one to help me but you, 15 and I am in great danger now. 16 From my birth, Lord, I have heard how you chose Israel from among the rest of the nations, and our fathers from their ancestors, to be an everlasting inheritance. I have heard how you did for them all that you had promised. 17 But now we have sinned before you, and you have delivered us into the power of our enemies 18 because we worshipped their gods. You are just, Lord. 19 Yet the enemies weren’t satisfied with our bitter slavery, so they shook hands with their idols in partnership. 20 They plan to set aside the promises you made, to rob you of your inheritance, to silence those who praise you, and to stamp out the honour of your temple and your altar. 21 They want to open the mouths of the nations to praise the wonderful deeds of useless idols[d] so that a human king might be honored forever.

22 “Don’t surrender your sceptre, Lord, to things that don’t exist. Don’t let them mock our downfall. Instead, turn their scheme against them and make an example of the one who started this against us. 23 Remember us, Lord, and reveal yourself in the time of our distress. Give me courage, king of the gods and ruler of every authority. 24 When I speak, let my words be persuasive before the lion, and turn the king’s heart to hatred toward the one who is fighting against us, to bring his life to an end along with those who agree with him. 25 Deliver us by your actions, and help me, I who am alone and have no one except you, Lord.

“You know all things. 26 You know that I hate the honour of those who don’t follow your Law. I detest sharing the bed of this uncircumcised king or indeed of any foreigner. 27 You know my trouble: I hate the crown[e] that is on my head when I appear in public. I despise it as I would a menstrual rag, and I don’t wear it when I am in private. 28 I, your servant, didn’t dine at Haman’s table. Nor did I honour the king’s banquet or drink wine that had been offered to the gods. 29 From the day of my crowning until now, your servant hasn’t had any joy except in you, Lord, God of Abraham. 30 All-powerful God, listen to the voice of those who despair, and deliver us from the hands of those who do wrong, and deliver me from my fear!”

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