Housegroup Materials: Week 5 (God’s Purpose)

The Bible sets human history in the perspective revealed by Christ’s resurrection, his gathering of God’s people, building of the kingdom and promised return.

Note: http://archive.bigbible.uk/2011/01/the-weekly-menu/

NIBBLES

  • What would be your ‘perfect heaven’? What do you think it will be like?
  • What questions did your housegroup have last week? What debates were on the forum (http://bit.ly/bigbweek4), which have raised new questions from last week.  

MAIN COURSE

Tom Wright introduces ‘God’s Purpose’:

 

(Machine read transcript, needs fine-tuning)

In the small group, listen to the reading  Matthew 22:1:-14 as it is read to you. If you are joining online, an audioversion can be found here.

Discuss together your responses to the following questions. (Approx 20-30mins, depending on the size of the group)

  • What did you like best about the passage and why?
  • What did you not like about the passage and why?
  • Which part of the passage is the most important for you and why?
  • Which part of the passage would you leave out today and why?

 

In the printed material, and available on line, you have access to a story and a reflection based on a response to today’s reading.

BB WK 5 David Perry by bigbible

Listen to the story and the reflection: Being chosen

 

I still flinch when I recall how humiliated I so often felt during games lessons at school. Suffering with allergic asthma meant that more often than not I turned up with a note excusing me from PE. This did little to enhance my already poor sense of self worth. Being left out whilst the other lads played football and rugby tagged me as being different, a really unpleasant state of affairs. So this was what I had to endure during my first years in the highly competitive atmosphere of secondary school.

Then I had some tests and started on new medication. I became fit and well, and was told that I could now participate in games lessons. I dared to imagine that life at school would really improve.

How wrong could I be? In actual fact this was when my fragile self-esteem nosedived to new depths. Team games were a right nightmare. We would all line up and two captains would be chosen by the PE teacher. These popular and clearly talented individuals then selected their team members in turn. And guess who was always amongst the very last to be picked? Yes, yours truly. With the benefit of hindsight this was inevitable. With little skill and no practice to my name no one in their right mind would have preferred me. Being chosen on the basis of sporting merit could mean only one thing. The two captains would soon be surrounded by their chosen players, leaving me and perhaps one or two other unfortunates standing dejectedly on the touchline waiting for the nod, which when it came was always grudging.

This sorry experience of being foisted on an unwilling team was made worse by my obvious lack of ability once the game began. If being picked last was not bad enough, lofting the ball over the bar in front of an open goal certainly was. It did little to improve my chances of being seen as an asset worthy of being chosen next time round. And so the misery continued.

Reflection

Being chosen feels special. Being left out does not. It can be such a bitter and wretched experience. In Matthew’s gospel we discover that God turns our usual understandings of merit upside down. God chooses those no one else would choose and has a preference for the overlooked, ignored, left out and forgotten ones amongst us. Such grace is staggeringly subversive, because in God’s economy it is clear that the last shall be first. So in Jesus’ story of the wedding party the sight of the King’s servants scouring the streets for good and bad alike is a lesson in how to shock the faithful out of our complacency.

We are the fortunate ones. Through undeserved and unmerited grace alone we have been chosen and called to live inside the Kingdom of God. Yet it is easy to lose sight of just what an astonishing miracle this choosing actually is. All too soon we can forget what standing alone on the touchline, unwanted and overlooked, feels like. And our attention is slowly drawn away from this cutting edge of the Kingdom to more comfortable thoughts. Our sense of gratitude, and with it our commitment to the way of Jesus, gradually diminishes. As insiders we lose touch with the plight of society’s outsiders.

It is then that the full force of the parable hits home and shocks us into remembering. Jesus jolts us awake with all that is expected of his disciples. Rather than following our own inclinations, as people called and chosen by God we are called to live each day visibly transformed by divine love. Seated at the banquet of amazing grace we are expected to look the part and act accordingly, because being chosen should never be taken for granted.

Revd David Perry is Chair of the Lincoln and Grimsby Methodist District and blogs online at www.visualtheology.blogspot.com.

PUDDING (Pick One!)

Steamed Pudding:

  • Psalm 130 (p92, Tom Wright’s book) talks about hitting the depths. How should issues of mental health be dealt with by churches? Try Premier Lifeline: http://www.premier.org.uk/lifeline
  • See p86 of Tom Wright’s book: ‘That’s not a very nice story’. When we read the Bible, we focus on a few specific texts, and often the most comforting texts. Which would you describe as texts of terror, and how should we deal with them?
  • See p.97 of Tom Wright’s book. The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC) believes in whole-life Christianity, that ‘the UK will be transformed when the Church envisions and equips ‘ordinary’ men and women to make a difference where we are, where we spend most of our time, where we have most of our relationships, where others can see the difference Christ makes in our lives at work, university, with our neighbours, etc.’ What would ‘your whole life transformed’ look like?

Access and join in the debates online: http://bit.ly/bigbweek5

Chilled Pudding:

  • Picture the celebrations on being invited to God’s wedding party, either in abstract form, or ‘in reality’, including ‘dressing appropriately. (pp87-89, Tom Wright’s book). Consider uploading your pictures to: http://www.twelvebaskets.co.uk/.
  • On p.86, Tom Wright’s book, ‘God took the world into his hands’ . We are also responsible for the world. Talk about world issues that require prayer, write on paper, ‘take them in your hands’, and pray.
  • On pp90-92, we see that Jesus came between us and God’s Judgement. We often see depictions such as http://bit.ly/bridgeJG. How would you picture it?

AFTER DINNER CHOCS

  • Give out free hot cross buns in a local town centre or marketplace
  • Visit a museum / stately home. If this might be ‘the kingdom of heaven’, what are the good things about the kingdom and what are the challenges to the kingdom that you find therein?
  • Invite someone for dinner that you don’t really know.
  • Consider whether you are able to contribute to the charity: http://www.acts435.co.uk/.
  • On  p.90 of Tom Wright’s book, we see how tiny streams contribute to a massive flood. Try setting up a Twitter account: http://bit.ly/introtwitter, and see how many small messages have a lot of influence.

WEEK 5 (Word.doc) (12baskets have PDF version for download)

Go back to Week 4; Go Forward to Week 6

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