In a Nutshell: Sub-titled: "My life is in a mess but God's fingerprints are everywhere!" To say Mary’s pregnancy was a surprise is an understatement. Although it had been prophesied in Scripture and longed for by every good Jewish woman, no doubt, Jesus’ birth did not take place in an uncompromising fashion. Joseph and Mary’s stories were changed forever, but not without some “nail biting” changes, faith and commitment.
Ice Breaker: Can you describe a gift you have received that surprised you. It seemed to be the worst present ever, but rather worked out to be just what you needed?
CONNECTING WITH THE TEXTS:
1. What is the difference between Joseph’s story given by Matthew and Mary’s story as given by Luke? Does this reveal contradictions or perspectives?
2. What Old Testament passages were pointing toward the birth of Jesus?
REFLECTING ON YOUR LIFE:
4. How would you feel at each of these times if you were Joseph:
… being betrothed and getting ready to get married? … listening to Mary explain her story and condition? …looking through Scripture to find direction? (2 Samuel 12:14-23 & Deuteronomy 22:22) …waking up after the dream, being told that Mary’s Child was from God?
5. How would you feel at each of these times if you were Mary:
… being betrothed and getting ready to get married? … getting ready to explain to Joseph your story and condition? …looking through Scripture to find affirmation, hope and direction? (Old Testament Messianic Prophecies & Luke 1:46-56 ) …talking to Joseph after his dream, being told that the Child was from God?
6. Is there anything going on in your family right now that makes you feel out of control, judged, or confused as to what you should do? Obviously Mary and Joseph’s difficulty was not resulting from personal sin. In spite of that significant difference in situations can you identify a fearful response and a faithful response that you might need to consider in your situation?
CONNECTING WITH YOUR CHURCH:
7. How would you expect your CARE group/church to react to you if you were in a situation that made you look really bad? How do churches seem to react? What cause s the difference in those two reactions?
8. How do you draw the line between “gossiping at church” and “sharing a private prayer request with a friend?”
- The Star of Bethlehem, a list of resources
- Answers in Genesis – Star of Bethlehem
- Old Testament Messianic Prophecies
- Faith Building Bible Verses
Title: “The Wisemen’s Stories”
Text: Matthew 2:1-12; Daniel 9:24-27; Numbers 24:17; Revelation 22:16
Questions: How would scientists, Kings, “Magi” from “the East” know about prophecies regarding a “King of the Jews?” What does that teach us about how God can work through really bad times, even times like the remnant of Jews in exile?
Parents with your children: The following website is not scientifically nor theologically deep. It is a good starter for trying to sort out fact and fiction, tradition and history about Christmas. This week talk about some of the questions presented. Why the 25th? What was the Star? How do other countries celebrate Christmas? Also, Play with your children with Christmas purpose! Your children will never forget times you spend with them playing and talking about Christmas. Check out these Christmas activity blog ideas -