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God Promises a Savior                         Luke 1: 26-38

Focal Outline:           Luke 1: 26-28                                    The Lord is with you

                                    Luke 1: 29-33                                    Don’t be afraid

                                    Luke 1: 34-38                                    Here am I

 

Summary Statements: (To help you get a handle on the lesson truths.)

  1. Longstanding promises were fulfilled, and new promises were made, in the news that Mary received!
  2. We should remember that God comes to us in our ordinary lives and in our ordinary circumstances.
  3. Gabriel told Mary not to be afraid, even though the good news she was receiving would cost her greatly.
  4. Mary could tell she was about to take a tough journey. But, she stopped questioning and accepted God’s call.

 

Questions for Thought: (To help you think of some questions to challenge with a “So What?”)  

1.What did God resolve in the news Mary received? What new ground did God blaze?

  1. What is the most ordinary circumstance in which God has come to you and spoken or moved?
  2. How does God’s activity in us, though Christ, cause unrest or disturbance? How does this also bring peace?
  3. How is Mary’s story supposed to become our own story? What is here for us?

 

Points to Ponder

[NOTE: These suggestions are to help your class be more interactive and discussion oriented. Using 3-5 different ideas will enhance your preferred teaching style and involve class participants. Build excitement and intimacy in your learners!]

The Savior Has Been Born. That is the new unit title that we begin this week. The Advent season is upon us. Now is our chance to live into the marvelous words of Christ’s arrival. But, don’t these fantastic stories raise questions for us, as adult learners? Naturally, they do. Some of those questions are mere curiosities. But, others of them are a little more deep-seeded than curiosities. They are a part of our ongoing struggle to manage the mystery of our faith.

Favor. That word pops up a couple of times in Mary’s story here. Was Mary favored because of some unique personal qualities she possessed at a very young age? Perhaps. We really aren’t privy to what those are, though. Was Mary favored because she said, “Yes” to God’s mission of bearing the Christ child? Perhaps. Or, did Mary become favored over time because of the revered place she would occupy in Christendom? What bearing on our understanding of this story should that word (favor) have? How can Mary’s story become ours, as we listen to these words? She has something to teach us, I am convinced. Many things, actually. Don’t merely admire her. Mine this story for those lessons. Let the promises spoken by Gabriel encourage you. But, let Mary’s own manor and response teach you. She questioned. But, then she said, “yes.”

On p111, our lesson writer makes this bold claim. We shouldn’t be afraid of what God is doing in our lives, but like Mary, we should take it seriously. I am challenged deeply by those words. Can I own such a bold faith response? If what God wants to do proves costly—or just far from my comforts—how should I respond? How will I respond? When should the questions stop, and the faith begin?

Introductory Thoughts (5-15 minutes – These are for discussion to introduce this week’s Lesson Ideas.)

  1. How have you sensed God’s presence in your life? (p109) How does God’s presence bless you? What responsibilities does God’s presence give you?

 

  1. Do you ponder the events of your life? Are you alert to what God may be doing in and through you? Do you ask questions to clarify what God’s actions mean for you and for others?

 

  1. How do you respond when you sense that God wants you to do something? Do you question? Do you pray? Do you ignore and hope God moves on? Do you talk with others?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p100 of your Connections Uniform Teaching Guide. Do we trust God’s promises?

Studying & Discussing the Passage (20-25 minutes – See Brian Harbour’s Commentary for added insights and explanations.)

  1. Share an overview of the Lesson from “Scripture Context” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the focal passage using a variety of teaching methods…

 

Luke 1: 26-28                       The Lord is with you

In v26, what “sixth month” are we to understand this is? In v26-27, what is God already up to that is unusual or unexpected? Why in v28 did the angel Gabriel greet her as he did?

 

Luke 1: 29-33                                    Don’t be afraid

How does Mary’s reaction confirm the previous question? In v30, a further calming word is issued. Why so? In v30-33, go through as a group and list all the details that are announced here. What questions do they raise?

 

Luke 1: 34-38                                    Here am I

In light of Mary’s (understandable) question, what do you make of the answer that came in v35? What do v36-37 add to Mary’s news and perspective? How would you characterize Mary’s reaction in v38?

 

  1. On p111 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “We shouldn’t be afraid of what God is doing in our lives, but like Mary, we should take it seriously.” What does this mean for you? What might God do that scares you?

 

  1. How does Gn 18: 9-15 relate to our text? How about Lk 1: 18-20?

 

  1. On p112 our lesson writer says “Jesus is born as the result of God’s Spirit overshadowing Mary. It’s better to affirm and celebrate the fact that it happened rather than try to explain how it happened.” Do you agree? Why?

 

  1. In the Connections Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour makes a helpful claim right from the beginning. On p69, why does God self-reveal in the Bible? On p69-70, who is Elizabeth and why is she important here? On p70, what do we know about Mary—and what do we not know? What statement was God making in choosing her? On p71, what is Mary’s favor (or blessing)? On p72, why a divine conception?

 

Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes – Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)

Discuss any of the following questions…

  1. Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? The answer appears to be “no.” Why so?
  2. Pray that God will help you believe that God’s grace can do wonderful things in your life, too.
  3. We are called to follow Jesus, whose path led him to live in ways that most people still can’t accept…(p111) Pray that you will know and accept the ways that God wants you to follow Jesus.

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p104 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. How is God’s promise to Mary also a promise to us? What other promises has God made that were fulfilled in the coming of this baby?

 

People go where they know they’ve been prepared for and are cared for!


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The Affirmation of the Promise            Luke 1: 39-56

Focal Outline:           Luke 1: 39-41                                    Filled with the Spirit

                                    Luke 1: 42-45                                    Blessed is she

                                    Luke 1: 46-56                                    My spirit rejoices

 

Summary Statements: (To help you get a handle on the lesson truths.)

  1. God’s promises through Elizabeth and John affirm the promises Jesus will later fulfill to all God’s people.
  2. When we feel like we are being prompted by God to speak with or visit someone, we probably should!
  3. Close exposure to God’s messenger and God’s movement led these two women to react very humbly.
  4. Mary and Elizabeth chose to affirm God’s plan, and to take part in it, even though it was only beginning.

 

Questions for Thought: (To help you think of some questions to challenge with a “So What?”)  

  1. How can we look backward and discern where God might be headed soon?
  2. What has happened when I have sensed God’s leading and followed? When I didn’t follow?
  3. Why is the close presence of God so humbling?
  4. What should I learn from their faithful participation with God?

 

Points to Ponder

[NOTE: These suggestions are to help your class be more interactive and discussion oriented. Using 3-5 different ideas will enhance your preferred teaching style and involve class participants. Build excitement and intimacy in your learners!]

How does the Spirit inspire us to respond to Jesus’ presence? (p117) That is among the questions that will be posed to us this week in our lesson. The sovereignty of God is filled with mystery. How God moves in our lives seems to vary almost by how many testimonies we might hear. We all seem to experience God’s movement in different ways, even if those differences seem subtle. Mary and Elizabeth both responded faithfully to God’s voice. The Spirit moved them, and they found each other on the brink of history!

Has God ever placed someone on your heart? You know, really gave you a burden to call or write to someone specific? I have come to believe that when God places someone on my heart, I should try to stop what I am doing and at least speak with them. Maybe even visit them. Even granting the mystery of the Spirit, I have become convinced that God has intent behind those burdens. The other day, someone popped into my mind. I picked up the phone and called them. We talked for a minute. Then, I heard the voice on the other end of the phone say, “You know…I’m so glad you called. I was trying to figure out whether I should call you.” I responded, “Oh really? Why so?” And, from there they shared with me about something so personal that I could not have known what they were dealing with. That conversation ended up mattering.

The coming of Christ will involve a lot of supernatural movement. Big flashy scenes are a part of bringing Emanuel, God with Us. But, there were a lot of quiet and small responses involved, too. Don’t you think? Mary and Joseph hearing and believing. Shepherds that followed the voices that had spoken, and Wise Men sensing what felt like the voice of trouble. What small prompting of God could be leading you right now?

Introductory Thoughts (5-15 minutes – These are for discussion to introduce this week’s Lesson Ideas.)

  1. How does the Spirit inspire us to respond to Jesus’ presence? How do our lives demonstrate that we are aware of Jesus’ presence?(p117) How would you evaluate your experience with the Holy Spirit so far?

 

  1. When was a time that you felt inspired to share good news with family or friends? Why did you want to do so? Why didn’t you keep it to yourself? Why should Christians, especially, share their experiences?

 

  1. How can we be a part of what God is doing? To what extent is God just going to do what God is doing? To what extent do you believe that God needs our participation in order to keep moving forward? Why?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p107 of your Connections Uniform Teaching Guide. What goes through your mind when you are preparing to share good news with someone you love?

Studying & Discussing the Passage (20-25 minutes – See Brian Harbour’s Commentary for added insights and explanations.)

  1. Share an overview of the Lesson from “Scripture Context” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the focal passage using a variety of teaching methods…

 

Luke 1: 39-41                                   Filled with the Spirit

With v39, what does “in those days…” refer to? What was Mary’s quest in v40, and why did she visit? What does v41 teach us about God?

 

Luke 1: 42-45                                    Blessed is she

What indicators of Elizabeth’s faith do we get in v42-44? List as many indicators as you can identify. Of whom does she refer in v45? How so?

 

Luke 1: 46-56                                    My spirit rejoices

What does Mary mean in v46-7? List Mary’s specific beliefs about what God is doing, as heard in v48-50. Why does this come voiced in the past-tense? In v51-4, how has God done these things? In v55, how do these things affirm God’s promises to Abraham?

 

  1. On p118 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “Elizabeth is the model of a disciple: she believes God’s plan, confesses Jesus as Lord and bears witness to him.” Talk this over with your group—why is this a “model”?

 

  1. How does Gn 21: 1-7 relate to our text? How about 1 Cor 1: 27-29a?

 

  1. On p121 our lesson writer says “How can we be a part of what God is doing? How does Mary’s song call us to work for justice? Well, what do you think? How do you respond? Why?

 

  1. In the Connections Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour tells us about a specific, old practice of prayer. He believes that Mary’s prayer is an example of that. On p74, who is Elizabeth and why does Mary go to visit her? P. 75-6 offer help with some key words like “blessing, “soul” and “spirit,” as well later on with “Mighty One” and “holy.” On p77, why does Mary’s prayer take issue with the cliché’ “God helps those who help themselves?”

 

Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes – Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)

Discuss any of the following questions…

  1. How do we think about the ways God uses and blesses us?
  2. Pray to accept whatever ways God wants to use you in accomplishing God’s purposes.
  3. Christians all have a calling from God upon their life. How do you process your sense of God’s call on your life? Do you take time to pray about and prepare for what God wants you to do?

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p111 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. Do we think enough about what we have to celebrate?

 

People go where they know they’ve been prepared for and are cared for!