Prepare the Way Worship Series, week 5 —SEARCH
December 30, 2018
Small Groups: From Worship To Discipleship
Fellowship —Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal)
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes) — In pairs or groups of three, discuss: “What was the best part of the Christmas celebration for you?”
Read: Luke 2:41-52
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)
Opening Question: “As we continue the Christmas season, what are you searching for?” [Hope, Faith, Joy, Love, Abundance, Peace, etc.]
- Tell a story about when your parents/guardians had to search for you or when you had to search for a child or friend.
- How would you have felt if you had been Mary or Joseph searching for Jesus?
- What do we learn about Jesus and his family from this passage? [Mary was not required to travel to Jerusalem. The fact that she does displays the pious nature of the family.]
- (R) What might this story suggest about Jesus’ views of family bonds?
- (R) How does God search for us?
- (R) What would help you more diligently search for God?
Optional Exercise – Research the symbols of the twelve days of Christmas and how they recount many important Christian beliefs.
Optional Exercise – Participate in a Wesley Covenant Service (United Methodist Book of Worship, 288) at your church or a nearby United Methodist Church. Also see the Discipleship Ministries Resource.
How could this happen?
Not being able to locate where a loved one is, whether for three minutes or three days, is a terrifying experience. I know, because it happened to me. For about five minutes, I could not find my nephew in a crowded mall at Christmas time. The terror of having to explain to my wife and then her sister-in-law how I lost her three year-old son flashed through my mind. Scenes of a panicked child as he searched for a familiar face haunted me. Trying to keep track of my own two toddler children as I searched for my nephew was maddening. Though my search lasted only five to ten minutes, I won’t ever forget those anxious moments.
It’s one thing to lose a child for a few minutes when he darts off in a crowd. It seems even more improbable to seemingly forget about a child for hours or days. However, we must remember that families in biblical times would have traveled with large groups for safety. It would not have been uncommon for men to be together in one part of the group with women in a separate section. Mary might have figured that Jesus was with Joseph, while Joseph assumed the boy was with his mother. Once they realized the situation, their search was likely to have included much fear and anxiety.
Christmas Season: Introduction to the Christmas Season from the United Methodist Book of Worship
I once thought the twelve days of Christmas were a countdown to the day of Christmas. It came as a surprise to learn that the twelve days of Christmas were actually the number of days in the season of Christmas, beginning on Christmas Day and counting until Epiphany. Christmas isn’t just a daylong celebration. Despite what entertainment has taught us, Christmas is a season!
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). End by praying the following together:
At the right time, you sent your Son into the world. Many sought after the Messiah then, and we continue to do so today. As we search, help us to realize more diligent than our search, God searches us out to bless us through the abundance of God’s grace. Amen.
Gather together and read aloud the Bible passage.
41 “Now every year [Jesus’] parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.’ 49 He said to them, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.”
Discuss: What do you notice about this passage that surprises you? What about it is not surprising? What else in this passage caught your attention?
Pray this litany responsively.
Litany of Wonder
One: Gracious God, thank you for teaching us with Jesus how to understand you and your commandments.
All: Make us curious and wise as we read the Bible and learn more from you each day.
One: Like Mary and Joseph, sometimes we search in the wrong places for Jesus.
All: Renew us as we return to share in worship and friendship with our congregation.
One: Thank you for the loyalty and love we see in Jesus’ relationship with his parents.
All: Send your Spirit to help us grow more faithful and kind to our family and friends.
Family Devotions for New Year's Day 2019
Gather together with no distractions to share this time of spiritual fellowship.
One person may read the Bible passage aloud; or several family members may enjoy taking turns reading one verse at a time.
Reader(s): Let’s listen closely to God’s word for us in our Bible passage today.
Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verses 1 through 13, says,
1 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
9 What gain have the workers from their toil?
10 I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with.
11 He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live;
13 moreover, it is God's gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.”
Conversation: Take turns talking about the Bible passage. What stood out for you in this passage? Why did it draw your attention? What does it mean for your life today?
Pray aloud together this Family Litany.
One: Heavenly Father, you are able to make all things new in your good time.
All: Thank you for being the God of our family for our past, our present, and our future.
One: In Jesus Christ, you are Emmanuel, God with us. You guide us on our journey through life.
All: We are so glad that our times and our lives are safely in your loving hands.
One: As we begin this new year, send your Holy Spirit to encourage us to always trust you.
All: Help us to speak words of grace and treat others with your love. Draw us closer to one another and to you in this new year.