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, have participants share about a time they misunderstood a situation and said the wrong thing. (Example: I once greeted a friend I had not seen in quite a while and mentioned how happy I was about her pregnancy. She replied that the baby had been born 3 months earlier.)
- In Mark 8:31, Jesus is trying to tell his disciples that he will face great suffering, rejection, and death. But Peter, who had just identified Jesus as the Messiah in Mark 8:27-29, can’t handle it. This is not what he expected, so he “rebukes” Jesus. Mark doesn’t tell us exactly what Peter says to Jesus. Why do you think Peter responds this way? What do you imagine Peter says to Jesus?
- In Mark 8:33, Jesus tells Peter, “…you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” What helps you focus more on “divine things” and less on “human things”?
- In Mark 8:34, Jesus says his followers need to be prepared to deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow him. Fortunately, most of us don’t have people literally nailed to crosses in our communities today, so what might it mean for us to ‘take up our cross” to follow Jesus? Are there people in your community who are persecuted for who they are, what they believe, the color of their skin, how they express themselves, or where they come from? How might you and your church share the love of God with these community members?
- For private reflection and prayer: What might you need to leave behind to follow Jesus more faithfully?
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). End with the following prayer, a similar prayer, or the Lord’s Prayer:
O God of great compassion, thank you for your presence with us, especially during seasons of suffering. Forgive us for the times we have turned aside from those who suffer. May we be conduits of your love and mercy to those in physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. Help us discern what we need to put aside so that we can be more faithful followers of Jesus. Amen.
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Rev. Alecia Curtis Glaize is a United Methodist minister specializing in Christian education. She was educated at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, and Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California. She currently serves as Interim Director of Field Education at Claremont School of Theology and is a volunteer adult Bible study teacher at her church.