Week 3 - Joy
Fellowship – Snacks (10 minutes)
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In pairs or groups of three, have participants respond to the following question: “Where have you encountered joy this Advent season?”
Read: Isaiah 35:1-10
- Notice the verbs in verses 3 and 4. These are a response to verses 1 and 2. What are verses 3 and 4 calling us to do? Who are they calling us to be? [Being people of action does not come from our own strength. It is a response to the prior, gracious work of God. Our response is tied into our identity as God’s joyous people.]
- How is the vision of healing and wholeness in verses 5 through 10, ultimately a work of God? [Notice verse 4.]
- How is joy a gift of God and a state of being and not merely a temporary feeling?
Read: Matthew 11:2-11
- Review the next to last question from last week’s session for the Gospel reading. Why would John the Baptist have begun questioning whether Jesus was “the one”? [To this point, Jesus’ message did not look like the fire of judgment.]
- How does Jesus’ response (verses 4-6) frame his ministry as one that might be described as joyous?
- How can we experience joy during times of questioning and even sadness or injustice?
- How can we help others experience joy during this season?
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). End by praying the following or similar prayer:
God of Joy, during this season when the sun sets early, help us to focus on the light that shatters the darkness. Give us the eyes to see you move among us and to experience a joy that transcends our circumstances. Give us the ears to hear again the good news. Give us the mouth to shout affirmations of your love for all to hear. Amen.