Housegroup Materials: Week 6 (God’s Power)

The Bible points to the power of the Holy Spirit who inspired it and will inspire its readers.

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

NIBBLES

  • What do you see as ‘powerful’?
  • What questions did your housegroup have last week? What debates were on the forum (http://bit.ly/bigbweek5), which have raised new questions from last week.  

MAIN COURSE

Tom Wright introduces ‘God’s Power’:

 

(Machine read transcript, needs fine-tuning)

In the small group, listen to the reading Matthew 25:31-46 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 6 Jenny Ellis by bigbible

Listen to the story and the reflection: Pay it Forward

 

The film Pay It Forward (2000) with Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt is the true life story of a small boy who started a movement that transformed the lives of many people in America.  Trevor is brought up by his struggling alcoholic mother, having been deserted by his violent and abusive father. The film begins with a humanities teacher asking his class of 11 year olds how often they think about things that happen outside their town. This develops into a conversation about what the world expects of them. Trevor replies that the world expects NOTHING of them. This is his experience. The teacher tells them that one day they will be outside this classroom, and free in the world – what will happen if they don’t like what they see? He challenges them to come up with an idea to change the world and to put it into action, and the assignment will go on throughout the year.

The class is overwhelmed with the difficulty of the suggestion, and Trevor challenges the teacher. What has he ever done to change the world? The teacher replies that he gets a good night’s sleep, eats a hearty breakfast, shows up on time for class, and passes the buck to them. This is not Trevor’s experience of his own father.

Someone asks if they can fail the assignment. The answer is ‘no’ but they may squeak by with a ‘C’ if they don’t even try. The rest of the film is the story of how Trevor comes up with the idea of noticing opportunities to do something ‘big’ for someone at a particular time of dire need, when they can’t help themselves. This something ‘big’ makes a real difference to them. His first act is to give a man of the road some clothes so that he can get a job. Instead of paying ‘back’ the kindness, the man is challenged to pay it ‘forward’ doing something significant for someone else, and the film shows how transformative, but also costly, this can be. Trevor’s mother finds the homeless man being quietly accommodated in her garage!

 

Reflection

The story of the sheep and the goats conveys God’s challenge to quietly, and with discernment, change the world by intervening in small, powerful ways in the lives of others at moments of real need. It is a story of God’s expectation that we can and are expected by God to make a difference, and will be called to account for our efforts. There is less certainty that we will squeak by with a ‘C’ if we make no effort.

God uses the unlikely person to gently convey the prophetic message. In Pay It Forward it is an eleven year old struggling in a dysfunctional family. Trevor hears the challenge of his teacher to change the world and acts upon it, with consequences far beyond any he or his teacher might have imagined. Trevor, like Christ in the story of the sheep and the goats tests out the integrity of his teacher. Is there a consistency between what he asks of his class and what he himself does. What has he ever done to change the world? Trevor’s idea of paying it forward will go far beyond normal human expectation of kind behaviour which can be fairly easily repaid. It is more than helping out your friends and can require the tough challenge of forgiving your family.

The actions that Trevor dreams of have no expectation of repayment. They are free, undeserved and are quietly given with no strings attached, and no expectation that they will be returned. They mirror God’s unconditional love and concern. The actions are costly, requiring effort and generosity on the part of the giver. This ensures they have a significant, transformative impact.

Like Pay If Forward the story of the sheep and the goats is about living in a new reality of amazing kingdom values.

Revd Jenny Ellis is Co-ordinator of Evangelism, Spirituality and Discipleship for the Methodist Church in Britain

 

PUDDING

Steamed Pudding:

  • How do you balance the idea of expectations to make a difference, and the material we saw in the first week, of unconditional grace and to ‘just be’.
  • I s Jesus ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’. How can we re-tell this in a way that makes sense to a modern audience, e.g. a YouTube video? Are we ready for the awkward questions: http://bit.ly/awkwardqu?
  • What changes do you long to see in the world? Do you believe that God has the power to do so? If we feel powerless, how do we understand that we do have power (through God) (see p.104 of the book)?

Access and join in the debates online: http://bit.ly/bigbweek6

Chilled Pudding:

  • Look at the blog entry http://bit.ly/biblewait, in which we are commended to read the Bible more slowly, and ‘savour a verse’. Do so.
  • Many people write in their Bibles. Print a sheet with today’s reading on it and get the group to contribute written thoughts to it.
  • Brian Draper has written a book called Labyrinth (http://bit.ly/draperlab): “Labyrinth is an ancient meditative tradition, a centuries-old path walked by pilgrims all over the world. It’s intriguing symbolism helps reconnect us with our place in a great, unfolding story a story of humanity, spirituality, theology, quest, belief, wonder, doubt, penitence, journey… This book will guide you through the labyrinth. It is a walk that leads to divine encounter, to transformation, and to seeing the world with new eyes.” Consider your options for ‘walking a labyrinth’

AFTER DINNER CHOCS

  • Start a ‘Pay it Forward’ of your own.
  • Create a ‘mind-map’ of your life (you could use http://bit.ly/esmvtN). See where Jesus has impacted, and what you want to change. Create a new habit (it is popularly said that it takes 28 days to create a habit).
  • Using Twitter, contribute to the #favbible hashtag (see story on: http://bit.ly/favebible). Look for Share Creative’s opportunity to ‘write a Passion Play’ on Twitter.
  • Undertake a ‘Bible Surgery’. See http://bit.ly/littlewot for more information.
  • Think about the importance of sharing and encouragement, each of us contributing in small ways. Look at the resources available on http://www.twelvebaskets.co.uk/ and consider what you might be able to contribute (rather than just using materials once). What would happen if you ‘shared’ your life upon a blog? Would people ask why you lived that way?

WEEK 6 (Word.doc) (12baskets have PDF version for download)

Go back to Week 5; Go Forward to Week 7

About bigbible

The #BigBible Project. Educating in the digital spaces, creating 'bigger Bible conversations' between #digidisciple(s). Look out for #bigread14.