Week 4: Give You a Sign
Isaiah 7:10-16, Matthew 1:18-25
Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal).
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In groups of two or three, have participants respond to the question, “What do you really want this Christmas?”
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes). Read: Isaiah 7:10-16, Matthew 1:18-25.
- Can you share a story about when life seemed out of your control (much like Joseph’s in this story)?
- What does Joseph’s attempt to quietly dismiss Mary reveal about Joseph? [Though he was righteous (v. 19), he did not do the lawful or “righteous” action, which would have been to publicly shame her, so that Mary and her family would receive the shame instead of Joseph and his family. It probably also revealed Joseph’s inability to trust what Mary told him.]
- What does Joseph’s response to the angel’s message reveal about Joseph? [He trusted God (through God’s messenger of the angel) and was willing to take on shame (marrying a woman carrying another man’s baby). He was willing to be obedient, even at the cost of his reputation.]
- What might Joseph’s actions reveal about the role of trust in the journey of discipleship? [Discipleship is rooted not in certainty, but in a trust-filled relationship with God. There will be times of uncertainty, impracticality, and even seemingly foolish action.]
Read: Isaiah 7:1-16. How does God reassure King Ahaz (king of the much smaller kingdom compared with Aram and Israel) despite the plans of King Rezin and King Pekah? (Through the prophet Isaiah’s words of affirmation that God will not allow their plans to prosper.)
- Why is King Ahaz’s hesitancy to ask for a sign an indication of lack of trust? [He might be signaling that he doesn’t think he needs a sign or help from God. The fact that God grows weary in verse 13 indicates as much.]
- When do you find it difficult to trust God?
- How might this group help you to trust God more?
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). End by praying the following or a similar prayer:
Faithful God, you call us not to relationship based on certainty, but to a trust-filled relationship with you – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As this Advent turns to Christmas, may we witness the vulnerability you willingly took on as the infant Jesus to show us the extent of your love. In our periods of questioning and uncertainty, help us to trust you more. Amen.