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Discussion Guide: Rejection Must Fall

Discussion Guide: Rejection Must Fall

During the first part of the Easter season, we’ll be looking at the story of David and Goliath to understand the power of the resurrection in our lives. Rather than living in fear, complacency, anger, and rejection, God has opened up a new way for us to live in him. Through God, the “goliaths” of our lives no longer have the power over us. This week, we’ll look at how God, through Christ, has set us free from rejection.

 

Icebreaker

What is one of the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done? Why did you do it?

 

Scripture Reading

1 Samuel 17:20-53; Hebrews 13:1-81 Samuel 16:1-7; 17:26-31; 17:38-40,45-47: Hebrews 4:14-16

 

Discussion Questions

 

Read 1 Samuel 16:1-7 & 1 Samuel 17:26-31

  1. Think about these passages from the perspective of Eliab. How do you think his experience of rejection in Chapter 16 shaped his response to David in Chapter 17?
  2. Now, think about this passage from the perspective of David. How did he experience rejection?
  3. How do you think most people experience rejection? Is it through large traumatic experiences, or more mundane forms of rejection? What forms of rejection do you think are most common?
  4. This weeks sermon discussed the dynamic of “rejected people rejecting people” and creating cycles of rejection. Have you ever seen or experienced this in your own life?

Read 1 Samuel 17:32-37

  1. Saul initially rejects David based on his appearance and age. Do you see these forms of rejection alive and well in our culture? How so?
  2. How does David respond to Saul’s rejection? How has his relationship to God shaped his response?
  3. Where have you felt God’s acceptance of you? Why do you think it can be hard to experience this acceptance?

Read 1 Samuel 17:38-40, 45-47

  1. David’s speech to Goliath is rooted in his belief about who God is in relation to Israel. Who do you believe about God’s faithfulness, especially in relation to you and your community of faith?
  2. What truths about God’s acceptance do you see in this story? How does it relate to God’s acceptance of us through Christ?
  3. How might this story played differently if David allowed himself to succumb to rejection? Why is acceptance so powerful?
  4. What areas of your life do you feel rejected in? Why? How does the Good news of God in Jesus respond to those areas of rejection?

Diving Deeper: Christ Our High Priest

Read HEBREWS 4:14-16

The author of the book of Hebrews explores the idea of Jesus as our high priest. This idea is rooted in the dual concepts of Temple worship and ritual purity. During early expressions of Jewish worship, God’s holy presence was uniquely present in the Temple. As most people were sinful or impure, God could not accept or allow them to be in direct contact with him. As such, a high priest would serve as a ritually pure stand-in for the people of Israel. This person was ritually cleansed so God could allow them into His presence. Once their, the high priest could repent on behalf of the people and ritually absolve them in God’s presence.

  1. How does God’s acceptance of Jesus relate to God’s acceptance of you? Why does that even matter?
  2. Verse 15 discusses how Jesus empathizes with us in our struggles and knows our temptations. How is empathy important for helping cultivate our acceptance of others?
  3. The final verse talks about approaching God directly. In the analogy to the high priest, the author of Hebrews says that because of Jesus, we can now go directly to God ourselves and not fear his rejection. Is this a truth you feel like you live into? If this idea is hard to accept, why?

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Helpful Resources

The Reunion Team

Discussion Guide: Fear Must Fall

Discussion Guide: Fear Must Fall

During the first part of the Easter season, we’ll be looking at the story of David and Goliath to understand the power of the resurrection in our lives. Rather than living in fear, complacency, anger, and rejection, God has opened up a new way for us to live in him. Through God, the “goliaths” of our lives no longer have the power over us. This week, we’ll look at how God, through Christ, has set us free from fear.

 

Icebreaker

What was something you were afraid of as a child? Why was it scary, and how did you overcome that fear (if you did)?

 

Scripture Reading

1 Samuel 17:20-53; Hebrews 13:1-8

 

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you define fear? How do most people experience it in their everyday lives?
    LEADER NOTE: Fear is not necessarily about big scary things, try to think of some of the more mundane ways fear manifests itself in our lives (e.g. fear of speaking up, fear of failure, etc.).

Read 1 Samuel 17:20-31

  1. How has fear affected the army of Israel in this part of the story? What affects is it having on them?
  2. How have you seen fear affect you in your life? Do you feel like you’ve ever missed out on anything because of fear?
  3. How is David responding to the situation? Do you think this is an appropriate way to approach situations that are fearful?
    LEADER NOTE: In this section, David is in an exploratory role. He is examining the people’s fears and assessing the situation.

Read 1 Samuel 17:32-40

  1. What motivation does David give for his courageous behavior? Why is this response significant for our understanding of God?
  2. Have you ever known someone who seemed “fearless”? Why do you think they were that way? Do you think their justification for their fearlessness similar to or different from David’s?
    LEADER NOTE: David is not just confident in his own abilities, but in the ability and promises of God.
  3. Why do you think the author includes the section about David not using Saul’s armor? What is this communicating about David’s trust in God?
  4. How do you respond as you enter into fearful experiences? How does God factor into those moments?

Read 1 Samuel 17:41-53

  1. David face-off with Goliath is dramatic and could be framed as an expression of David’s fighting prowess. How does David himself frame the encounter? Why is that important?
  2. What would it look like for you to face some of the areas you experience fear? What truths do you believe about who God is that can help you in conquering fear?
    LEADER NOTE: Invite people to think about and share verses or sections of Scripture that relate to what God has done for us, and how God continues to support us in difficult times.  

Diving Deeper: FEAR CONQUERED IN CHRIST

Read HEBREWS 13:1-8

In this passage from Hebrews, the author is signing off his letter to the church. These final admonishments are meant to encourage the readers to pursue God wholeheartedly considering what God in Christ has done for them. The author goes out of his way to quote Scriptures to combat fear. This section explores why that is significant.

  1. How would you describe this section of Scriptures? Is it just a list of rules, practical advice, or something else?
  2. How do you think the idea of fear is alive in the various areas the author mentioned (i.e. money, sex, hospitality to strangers/prisoners). Do people still feel fear and anxiety about this today? Do you?
  3. The author goes out of his way to mention these verses of Scripture. What message are they conveying and why is that message significant today?
  4. What fears do you find it hard to trust into God’s presence? Why is it hard to trust God in these areas? Take some time to discuss with the group and pray about it.

Helpful Resources

The Reunion Team

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

Every Friday during our Experiential fast we are encouraged to journal about our experience. What has this fast been like? How have you experienced God during this fast? Has anything surprised you? Each week we will share reflections from people in our community across all 3 locations. This week is from a friend at the Somerville location.

I’ve thought a few times about going vegetarian. Vegan would be a bridge too far, but I think I could survive without meat.

I should clarify: I think about going vegetarian like I wonder how I’d live if I somehow lost the ability to see color or use my hands. Dinner without some ex-animal feels incomplete. I look forward to my weekly cheeseburger. The most magical place on Earth is not Disney, but a Brazillian steakhouse called Texas de Brazil. “I love meat,” is what I’m saying. But I can give it up for five days. For Jesus.

Honestly, my struggle has been with #follow more than the #unfollow part of our fast (#hashtag!). I didn’t find the time to try a prayer practice for a couple weeks. My work schedule makes weekday fellowship difficult, but I pretty much immediately shrugged that off as not an option. Didn’t even try it, nor did I look for people to bless. By my actions, God’s importance for the past couple weeks has been somewhere between giving up sweets and making a real effort to change my habits. I don’t say that to see all the sights on a guilt trip, it’s just what happened.

It’s appropriate for me, I think, that this week’s scripture reading is John 12. We see people praise Jesus when he symbolically announces himself as Messiah, but it’s secretly kind of a sad parade. They’re about to cry out for his death. They would have argued that they were checking all the boxes from scripture and deserved to be free of Roman rule. Jesus, whose priority was not rising up against imperial power, was trying to get them to follow God with more than physical display. It’s not about avoiding bacon or winning the religious service attendance award, it’s about growing closer to God and letting that lead us to loving people.

I want to get my priorities straight, and fasting is a reminder that God is the real essential in life. I’ve followed the #follow plan this week and I’m determined to finish strong. If you’re in a similar situation, or if you haven’t tried fasting, I’d encourage you to join me in the last week of our church fast. Not just in denying ourselves excess, but seeking what we truly need.

By the way, I’m counting this as the “share your struggles” experience for this week. #efficientlyfollowing – Patrick H

The Reunion Team

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PRAYER PRACTICES

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PRAYER PRACTICES

Each Tuesday we are inviting you to explore a new prayer practice as part of the experiential calendar. As part of that invitation, we also want to provide resources to help you as you explore those practices. This week, we’re looking at a Breath Prayer. 

Breath Prayer is a simple practice meant to focus us on who God is and what we most desire. Consider this helpful explanation and tips from the Center for Contemplative Activism:

Breath prayer is an ancient Christian prayer practice dating back to at least the sixth century. Historically, it is associated with the Eastern Church, particularly Greek and Russian Orthodox churches.

Known as the “Jesus Prayer” or “Prayer of the Heart,” early practitioners would repeat to the rhythm of their breath the phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” In time, the prayer was shortened to, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy” or simply, “Jesus, mercy.”

Breath prayer is a good example of “praying without ceasing” as St. Paul admonished us to do, and has the potential to become as natural as breathing. It is intended to be a very short prayer of praise or petition, just six to eight syllables. The words of the prayer can be easily adjusted to your heart’s desire.

Praise is expressed by calling on one of the Divine names such as God, Jesus, Lord, Father/Mother, Christ, or Spirit. Or you may prefer another name of adoration. Your request or intention is comprised by the words following.

The breath prayer is usually said silently within. But some people sing it; others chant it. It’s your prayer; use it your way.

You may also use the breath prayer for a focused time during a daily spiritual practice. Simply repeat the prayer over and over keeping your attention on the prayer. If your attention wanders, gently return to the prayer.

Begin with 5 minutes and gradually increase the time to 15 or 20 minutes as you become disciplined with the prayer. You may want to use a timer to free yourself from watching the clock. Some find it useful to write in a journal of their experience with the prayer.

Instruction

  1. Close your eyes and recall the line “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Be still, calm, peaceful, open to the presence of God.
  2. With your eyes closed, imagine that God is calling you by name. Imagine that God is actually asking, “(Your name) what do you want? Like the blind man on the road to Jericho, Jesus kindly looks you in the eyes and asks, “What do you want from me?”
  3. Give God a simple and direct answer that comes honestly from your heart. Write down the answer. If you have more than one answer, write them down. Your answer may be one word such as peace or love or help. It may be several words or a phrase such as “feel your presence” or “lead me into life.” Whatever your answers, they are the foundation of your breath prayer.
  4. Select the name that you are most comfortable using to speak with God. Combine it with your written answer to the question God asked you. This is your prayer.
  5. Breathe in the first phrase/word (generally your invocation of God’s name) and breathe out the second phrase/word (request or need).

You may need to compose several prayers before you find one which truly arises from your deepest desire. So look carefully at your prayer. Does it reflect the heart of your desire?

There’s no limit really to developing your breath prayer. It may be the same from day to day or it may change.

Sometimes you may want to reverse the practice a bit by sitting in silence and letting the Spirit pray through you. Ask for God to reveal your name, and God’s desire for you. This can be a profound experience. You may wind up hearing something like, “Beloved, you are enough,” or “Mighty One, rest.” Wait on God and see how you may be renewed.

Sample Breath Prayers

  • Jesus, let me feel your love.

  • O Lord Show me your way.

  • Holy one, heal me.

  • Jesus Alleluia, have mercy.

  • Holy Wisdom, Guide me.

  • Father/Mother (Abba/Amma), let me feel your presence.

The Reunion Team

Fill in your text here….

The Reunion Team

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PRAYER PRACTICES

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PRAYER PRACTICES

Each Tuesday we are inviting you to explore a new prayer practice as part of the experiential calendar. As part of that invitation, we also want to provide resources to help you as you explore those practices. This week, we’re looking at a creative form of prayer called “Imaginative reading” or “Imaginative prayer”.

Through Imaginative Prayer we place ourselves fully within a story from the Gospels. We become onlooker-participants and give full rein to our imagination. Jesus is speaking to a blind man at the side of the road. We feel the hot Mediterranean sun beating down. We smell the dust kicked up by the passersby. We feel the itchy clothing we’re wearing, the sweat rolling down our brow, a rumble of hunger. We see the desperation in the blind man’s face and hear the wail of hope in his words. We note the irritation of the disciples. Above all we watch Jesus—the way he walks, his gestures, the look in his eyes, the expression on his face. We hear him speak the words that are recorded in the Gospel. We go on to imagine other words he might have spoken and other deeds he might have done.

To put this in to practice consider these instructions from Professor of Spiritual Formation at Lipscomb University, Kris Miller:

Choose a passage to start with. After reading the passage through once, read it through again, very slowly. Allow yourself to be caught by a word, phrase, an image, or a truth. If it is a narrative, begin to imagine the scene. If it is not a narrative, imagine the reality described. Once you have read it through the second time slowly, put the passage down and use your imagination to enter the narrative or truth presented. You may want to us the word, phrase, image, or idea that caused you to enter the passage. If it is a Psalm or an epistle, imagine the truth and be in it. If it is a narrative, be in the event. Whatever the genre, take several minutes to let your imagination unfold and develop as you enter the story or the truth. You can trust that the Holy Spirit will be at work in your contemplation of the very Word that the Spirit inspired. Remain in the passage for several minutes. Then, journal a summary of your contemplation after you have experienced it.

The Reunion Team

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

EXPERIENTIAL CALENDAR – PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

Every Friday during our Experiential fast we are encouraged to journal about our experience. What has this fast been like? How have you experienced God during this fast? Has anything surprised you? Each week we will share reflections from people in our community across all 3 locations. This week is from a friend at the Quincy location.

Last week’s fast from television, movies and video games set me up well because I felt as though I had been through a bit of a detox.  How hard could the internet be?  After all, I am a Gen Xer who only has Facebook and Linked In and remembers what it was like before remote controls when we kids were the ones to turn the dial and change the channel for our parents.   This week I spent a great deal of time thinking about the internet and what it has become in my life.  Probably more time than I typically spend using the internet in a normal week.  The big question I pondered was, is it too late to turn back? 

Before entering the fast I decided to prepare myself and allow some exceptions.  Like how a person with diabetes or other chronic illness might have exceptions when fasting from food.  Preparation involved ensuring that all my bills were paid, my banks accounts were in the positive range, ensuring that my library books would not be overdue and that no online buying would be necessary.  Regarding exceptions, first, I allowed myself to continue with my morning practice of reading my devotions via the YouVersion app.  This year I’m enjoying a through the Bible in one year reading plan and I did not want to upset my rhythm for fear I would not go back to it after the fast.  Secondly, checking notifications from Facebook was allowed to keep informed about my daughter’s activities.  Lastly, my job requires that I use the internet, so I was relieved when Jeff, said that internet for work purposes was absolved and the fast is from personal use stuff.  Of course, it would have been amazing to take a week off on a deserted Island but I’m sure that the booking or checking in for the flight would have required internet access. 

Through the week there were some things I missed and did not miss about the internet.  Healthy detox for me was not scrolling through Facebook mindlessly forgetting the reason why I opened the app in the first place.  Taking a break from checking my library account three to four times a day was probably a good thing too.  Many times, I wanted to google something to learn more about something I read or overheard.  Also, I missed listening to podcasts, music via Pandora and a faith-based radio station in Barbados.  However, making quiet space brought many old hymns and choruses to my memory.  The Holy Spirit was my DJ. 

At the end of the week I concluded that it is too late to turn back.  The internet is necessary to a point.  The MBTA app can save me from freezing in the predawn hours waiting for a bus.  Yet, I will not allow a fridge to determine when I need to order milk.  The internet is a great tool for me use but must never become a tool that uses me. – Lisa Reid 

The Reunion Team

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