Community Group Questions | The First Christmas Carol | Dec 3, 2017
"The First Christmas Carol"
Rev. Blake Altman, Lead Pastor
God intends to change you by His Word. How is He at work in you to do that? Read the following passages and consider these questions.
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[e] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be[f] a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
QUESTIONS (20 minutes)
1. What is your favorite Christmas carol? Why do you appreciate it?
2. How do you imagine Gabriel greeting Mary? Do you have an image -- perhaps from childhood -- in your mind? Gabriel’s arrival “greatly troubled” Mary. “Greatly troubled” in Greek connotes the idea of being “troubled through and through,” or “stressed to the limit.” Does that change your image for the better or worse?
3. Read Luke 1:18 and Daniel 8:16-17; 9:20-23. A few months earlier Gabriel came to Elizabeth (Lk 1:18). And seven hundred years earlier Gabriel came to Daniel (Daniel 8:16ff) to give him insight and understanding. How is the message that Gabriel brings to all three similar?
4. What did Mary do in verse 29 that is teaches us what to do when we hear a Word from God? How has fellowship with other Christians helped you “to discern what sort of greeting this might be?” What significance does Elizabeth play in Gabriel’s words to finally landing on Mary?
5. What might Protestants (who typically downplay Mary) have to learn from at Luke 1:48? What might Roman Catholics (who believe Mary is sinless) learn from Luke 1:47?
6. Luke 1:47-49 show us a personal revolution is going on inside Mary. What does she sing about in these verses? Luke 1:51-53 show us a social revolution, the mighty are brought low, the poor are raised up! The gospel reverses the world’s values. How might your community group reach out to the poor this Advent season?
PRAYER (10-15 minutes)
Personal Response: Consider getting each person to ask themselves, Who are the poor in Owasso/Tulsa? “Is there a way for us to serve the poor together this Advent season?” Leave silence for the Holy Spirit to work in each person’s heart. In light of what God may have shown them, people may share personal prayer requests. Close with prayer together.
The TrinityVision: As we begin Advent pray for families who are doing family worship with the Advent guide.