Week 2: Clean-Up Crew
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 how this Advent and Christmas season might be different from past years.
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)
- Both passages talk about preparing a highway in the desert, about valleys being made low and uneven ground being made smooth. What is this imagery trying to convey? [Through preparation, a simpler path is made for all people to encounter the revelation of God (Isaiah 40:5).]
- What was the situation of Isaiah’s first hearers? [They were in exile. They felt abandoned by God. They were in a foreign land that felt uncaring, and many were persecuted and suffering.] How has 2020 felt somewhat similar to being in exile? [For example, there has been a lack of normalcy, violation of values, etc.]
- Isaiah’s first hearers were longing for an end to exile, for justice to be done, and for a return home. But this returning home could not look like life as it was before. (They were in exile because there were injustices and a lack of obedience to God.) How is home both a place of comfort and a place of challenge? How does the church function as both a place of comfort and a place of challenge? How is the season of Advent a calling to a better version of home? [Advent invites us to find our comfort and challenge in relationship with Jesus, born of a manger and our Savior, who calls us to obedience.]
- What do we learn about God from these passages? [God is faithful, God forgives, and God is compassionate.]
- What are we called to do in from these passages? [Be ready and invite others to experience the presence of God (Isaiah 40:3); pronounce the good news (Isaiah 40:9).]
- What practices can we take on this week to help prepare ourselves and others to experience the comfort and challenge of God’s grace?
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). Ask for a volunteer to lead the group in prayer or read the following prayer in unison:
Faithful God, we stand in awe of your compassion toward us. When we have been faithless, you have been faithful. This has been true throughout the generations, yet your steadfast love continues to pursue us and draw us closer into your love. May we be empowered as witness of your compassion, forgiveness, and love that others might see you in us. Amen.