Interacting with the Sermon
Synopsis of the Sermon
Rich talked about what it feels like when you have needs that are beyond your own capacity to fill. He began with a story from a woman in our church who was struggling and had impossible odds stacked against her. She was in recovery from addictions and needed housing but owed a lot of money in utility bills as well as had a history of evection. The situation seemed beyond helping. The disciples must have felt this way when they looked at the huge crowd of people who had followed Jesus to a far out place to hear him speak. Jesus asked his disciples, “How many loaves do you have?” and then performed one of the most famous (and well recorded) miracles in scripture. He fed over 20,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish!
Miracles begin in the heart of Jesus. With his idea and his compassion. Miracles also happen when we become aware of a need. Our own stories can help us connect with the needs of those around us. But we also see miracles when we get in touch with our own needs. Especially our need for Christ. Miracles happen in the face of impossibilities and miracles require our participation. Lastly Rich talked about how miracles manifest God’s extravagant grace.
In 5 minutes or less, briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
Getting the Conversation Started
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
- What are one or two things from this weekend’s sermon that really stood out to you?
- Has anyone experienced a miracle either personally or as a witness?
Read Mark 5:25-34
25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
- Vv. 25-26 Jesus has just been asked to heal a young girl. He is on his way to heal her and on the way he encounters this woman. What was this woman’s condition? (Observation) What do you think her mindset was at this point? How was she feeling after all this time? (Interpretation) Background: When a woman was on her period, she was considered unclean and the Jewish Law said she could not touch any man – especially not a teacher or Rabbi.
- VV. 27-28 What do you think the woman was thinking as she saw Jesus approach? (observation & interpretation) What happened when the woman touched Jesus? (Observation)
- VV. 30-32 We’re doing this advent series on questions Jesus asks. What question does he ask here? (observation) How do you think the woman felt when he asked it? (interpretation) How did the disciples react to the question? (Observation) What do you think the disciples were thinking when Jesus asked this question? (interpretation) Why do you think it was important for Jesus to know who had touched him? (interpretation)
- VV. 33-34 What do you think the woman was expecting Jesus to do or say to her? (interpretation) What was Jesus’ words to her? (Observation) Why do you think he told her this? (interpretation)
- What does Jesus’ reaction to the woman tell us about his character? (interpretation) What does it tell us about what he thinks is most important? (keeping the law v. mercy) How can we extend these same values to people in our lives today? (application) How can we receive these elements of Jesus’ character for ourselves? (application)
Below you’ll see some options for ministry time with your group. We always encourage you to reserve time in your group to pray for one another and wait on the Holy Spirit.
- Wait on God and see if there are any specific words for people who might need to have a personal touch from God in some area. Break down and pray for the ability to comprehend Jesus’ love and mercy for us.
- Alternatively practice Lectio Divina as a group with this passage. Here is one explanation from Ruth Haley Barton below. For a group, the leader should read the passage aloud with everyone else closing their bibles and just listening. Encourage people to write things as they come to mind while they are listening. For more from Ruth Haley Barton, you can read her book Sacred Rhythms or check out her website at: http://www.transformingcenter.org/
Preparation (Silencio) Take a moment to come fully into the present moment. With your eyes closed, let your body relax and allow yourself to become consciously aware of God’s presence with you. Express your willingness (or your willingness to be made willing) to hear from God in these moments by using a brief prayer such as “Come Lord Jesus,” or “Here I am” or “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Then read the chosen passage four consecutive times, each time asking a slightly different question that invites you into the dynamic of that move. Each reading is then followed by a brief period of silence:
Read (Lectio): Listen for the word or the phrase that is addressed to you.
Turn to the passage and begin to read slowly, pausing between phrases and sentences. You may read silently or you might find it helpful to read the passage aloud allowing the words to echo and resonate, sink in and settle into heart. As you read, listen for the word or phrase that strikes you or catches your attention. Allow for a moment of silence, repeating that word or phrase softly to yourself, pondering it and savoring it as though pondering the words of loved one. This is the word that is meant for you. Be content to listen simply and openly without judging or analyzing.
Reflect (Meditatio): How is my life touched by this word? Once you have heard the “word” that is meant for you, read the passage again and listen for the way in which this passage connects with your life. Ask, “What is it in my life right now needs to hear this word?” Allow several moments of silence following this reading and explore thoughts, perceptions, and sensory impressions. If the passage is a story, perhaps ask yourself the question, Where am I in this scene? What do I hear as I imagine myself in the story or hear these words addressed specifically to me? How do the dynamics of this story connect with my own life experience?
Respond (Oratio): What is my response to God based on what I have read and encountered? Read the passage one more time listening for your own deepest and truest response. In the moments of silence that follow this reading, allow your prayer to flow spontaneously from your heart as fully and as truly as you can. At this point you are entering into a personal dialogue with God “sharing with God the feelings the text has aroused in us, feelings such as love, joy, sorrow, anger, repentance, desire, need, conviction, consecration. We pour out our hearts in complete honesty, especially as the text has probed aspects of our being and doing in the midst of various issues and relationships.” (Robert Mulholland, Invitation to a Journey, p. 114) Pay attention to any sense that God is inviting you to act or respond in some way to the word you have heard. You might find it helpful to write your prayers or to journal at this point.
Rest (Contemplatio): Rest in the Word of God. In the final reading you are invited to release and return to a place of rest in God. You have given our response its full expression, so now you can move into a time of waiting and resting in God’s presence like the weaned child who leans against its mother. (Psalm131). This is posture of total yieldedness and abandon to the Great Shepherd of our souls.
Resolve (Incarnatio): Incarnate (live out) the Word of God As you emerge from this place of personal encounter with God to life in the company of others, resolve to carry this word with us and to live it out in the context of daily life and activity. As you continue to listen to the word throughout the day, you will be led deeper and deeper into its meaning until it begins to live in you and you “enflesh” this Word in the world in which you live. As a way of supporting your intent to live out the word you have been given, you may want to choose an image or a picture or a symbol that you can carry to remind you of it.