Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for December 21, 2014
Glory to God in the Highest Luke 2: 8-20
Focal Outline: Luke 2: 8-9 An audience; a messenger
Luke 2: 10-14 Good news of great joy!
Luke 2: 15-20 Let us go and see
Summary Statements: (To help you get a handle on the lesson truths.)
- Christmas as we celebrate today can often bear little resemblance to the quiet and surprise of the first one!
- God sharing this news with the lowly Shepherds was a powerful sign of a new order.
- The shepherds reacted with curiosity and acceptance. Their example should challenge our faiths.
- In the midst of the all the joy and adoration, Mary offers us a model of quiet reflection.
Questions for Thought: (To help you think of some questions to challenge with a “So What?”)
- What are some of the reasons we have for rejoicing that make God worthy of our worship?
- What can we learn from God using the Shepherds as a humble audience for this good news?
- How are the Shepherds’ reactions (curiosity and acceptance) held up as healthy challenge to us?
- We have something to learn from the brief mention of Mary’s spirit. What is that lesson?
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!]
Already, this is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Can this be? Christmas day is straight ahead. The Christmas that surrounds so many of us is alive with imagery! Lights blink and beckon. Decorations bring smiles to our faces and songs guide joy into our hearts. But, admittedly the schedule can get a little challenging. The hustle of a busy Christmas can leave us breathless. The strangled feeling of “How will we manage all of that?” or “What am I forgetting?” also accompanies the season—if we allow.
Let this text tune the heart of your spirit to a much simpler, quiet setting. For on that first Christmas, some of the lowest employees on the organizational chart were tending their flocks by night. The shepherds were there and doing their jobs. They had packed their dinner and figured this night would be like any other. Then, news arrived! Great news, in fact. News that left them no alternative but to respond, for the glory of the Lord shone on them. And, they moved into that first Christmas guided by their Wonder.
You have a few days left. How can you carve out enough space—enough peace and quiet—to allow the glory of the Lord to shine on you? God has a fresh word for us. God wants better for us than to simply survive another hectic Christmas season. No, the hope of Advent is far deeper than that. To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. (v11) This is news that urges a response from any and all of us. In Isaiah 63: 20, the prophet made this plea: O, that you would tear open the heavens and come down. Here is the best news– God did just that! Prepare your heart, for the Lord awaits.
Introductory Thoughts (5-15 minutes – These are for discussion to introduce this week’s Lesson Ideas.)
- How do you usually feel during a Christmas Eve worship service? This is a variation on last week’s opening question. Still yourself and reflect. Then, enjoy the discussion and see where this leads.
- What is your favorite Christmas tradition? This could be something you do personally. Or, a family or workplace custom. What is one thing that tunes your spirit to the Holy One during Advent?
- How do you typically respond when you hear news that is too strange or too wonderful to be true? Do you dismiss immediately? Do you investigate? Do you trust? Share within your group; celebrate the diversity!
- Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p114 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. Enjoy this discussion, focusing on the memorable characters of Luke 2 that make this story come alive.
Studying & Discussing the Passage (20-25 minutes – See Brian Harbour’s Commentary for added insights and explanations.)
- Share an overview of the Lesson from “Locating the Text” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the Focal Passage using a variety of teaching methods…
Luke 2: 8-9 An audience; a messenger
What meaning do you make of the shepherds being the first audience depicted as receiving the good news in v8? Why might God have chosen them? In v9, what is it about the “glory of the Lord” that is terrifying?
Luke 2: 10-14 Good news of great joy!
What reason did the messenger offer for why they should not be afraid, in v10-11? How many important points can you count in this news from v10-11? Why did they need a sign? What else about God did this sign communicate? What are some responses to God’s grace that we find suggested in v13-14?
Luke 2: 15-20 Let us go and see
What can we learn from the shepherds’ responses in v15-16? (haste; belief; action) What else did the shepherds do in v17? (told) How would you characterize Mary’s response? Why do you believe this detail is included in the story?
2. On p125 (lrg. print) our lesson writer says, “In James 2:5, James writes, ‘Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?’” What are some ways we can be poor? What does it mean to be rich in faith? What does it mean to love God?
- How does Jas 2: 5 relate to this passage? How about 1 Chron 16: 35-36?
- On p127 our lesson author says “The shepherds could have responded to the angel’s message in several ways. One is denial…or they could have approached the news with skepticism.” What are some of the other ways they could have reacted? What might have been some other acceptable responses?
- In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour offers a story with a surprise ending (and a strong application!) as we start. On p79-80, what is “that region” and who are the players? On p80, how does a Savior differ from a Messiah or a Lord? See p81 for only 3 NT occasions when angels “sing.”
Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes – Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)
Discuss any of the questions…
- a. Read James 2: 5. Ponder how God has chosen the humble for spiritual riches.
- How can the shepherds’ story encourage us toward more even treatment of others around us?
- In Luke 2: 8, we see unmistakably that God is at work in new and surprising ways. Pray that the same God who surprised the shepherds, and all around, will awaken your heart with a fresh word this Advent!
- See “Applying the Lesson” on p119 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. How does God’s sense of timing give hope to your own waiting in life?
People go where they know they’ve been prepared for and are cared for!
Bo Prosser, series editor, is the Coordinator for Organizational Relationships at CBF in Atlanta.
Charles Qualls, session writer, is Associate Pastor at Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Copyright SS Helps 2014 All references to Smyth and Helwys literature are used by permission of the Publisher.
All materials used are available through Smyth & Helwys Publishing,www.helwys.com, 800-747-3016.
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