The backbone of our life together.
There are about 25 Connect Groups of up to a dozen people meeting in different locations, and at different times, in the parish and beyond for bible study, prayer and mutual care and support. We encourage every church member to be “connected” to a group (even if they are not always able to attend). Janet McLean and Janet Goodenough together co-ordinate our groups, and they are the people to contact if you want to find a suitable group.
During this first half-term of 'lockdown' we will be having a single morning service, live-streamed at 9.15am following a new series, 'Investigating Jesus' through Luke's gospel. Our Connect Group sessions will be based on this series.
Sermon: Luke (8): Jesus - invites us to eat with him
Passage: Luke 22:7-23
Date: 21 Feb 2021 at 9.15am
Share a fond memory of a special meal you have enjoyed. Why is memory so important in the life of a Christian?
Luke mentions the Passover five times in the first eight verses of the passage. Why was it such an important festival to “eat” (v.8) for Jews of Jesus’ time? (Exodus 12:1-14 might help.)
Jesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) – his body was broken (v.19) and his blood was poured out (v.20). Why, then, might we be tempted to betray him? (Think about ‘small’ or ‘everyday’ things that might lead us away from God.)
How can ‘eating with Jesus’ empower us to serve other people?
Extra: Read this short article - www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-jesus-fulfills-passover/ and consider the final question, ‘Is His Blood Applied to You?’
Sermon: Luke (7): Jesus - The one with authority to forgive
Passage: Luke 5:17-26
Date: 14 Feb 2021 at 9.15am
Has the pandemic shifted your sense of ‘needs’ in any way? Are there things you thought you needed more than you really did? Conversely, are there any aspects of life you realise were more important to you than you first thought?
In this episode, Jesus attends to the paralytic’s spiritual condition before dealing with his physical limitations. When we become followers of Jesus how ought this to affect our sense of ‘need’?
Why would Jesus’ statement in verse 20 have sounded so shocking to the scribes and Pharisees? What does Jesus’ response in verse 24 tell us about his identity and domain?
Give thanks that Jesus is not only the ‘Great Physician’ (Luke 5:31-32), but the great Substitute – the One who gave his life so we might know God’s forgiveness (1 Peter 2:24).
Extra: Very few of us will feel the same sense of desperation about our life situation as the paralytic likely would have. How might living comfortably become a barrier to our sense of priorities before God?
Sermon: Luke (6): Jesus - The one with authority over creation
Passage: Luke 4:31-44
Date: 7 Feb 2021 at 9.15am
In what ways does the world around encourage us to express our own individuality? When can this be a good thing, and when does it clash with Jesus' authority
Consider each of the responses to Jesus in the passage: astonishment (v.32), recognition (v.34), service (v.39) and pursuit (v.42). How can we do all of these, and yet still not submit to Jesus' authority?
How can a greater understanding of Jesus' authority lead to greater joy in our lives?
Use Matthew 27:37-43 as springboard to prayers of thanks for all that Jesus went through - including submitting himself to the cross - to save us.
Sermon: Luke (5): Jesus - sets us free
Passage: Luke 4:14-30
Date: 31 Jan 2021 at 9.15am
Recognising that we are 'spiritually poor' is hard and humbling. Why do we find it hard to be honest about our situation and to ask for help? (perhaps you can think of other ways in which this is true too...)
Consider some of the ways in which we are captive to sin or blinded to God's mercy (there may be some things you'd prefer to talk about with a trusted friend). How is Jesus, 'good news' for us?
At various points in their history God's people 'missed out' on his blessing (can you think of other examples?). Jesus gives two examples where not only did they 'miss out' but God's blessing went to somebody else. In what ways might we be in danger of 'missing out' and how can we help friends/family to see what that Jesus is too good to miss?
Extra: Read the opening verses of Isaiah 61. How would these verses have been an encouragement to the original audience? Why does Jesus end the quote where he does?
Sermon: Luke (4): Jesus - Fully Human
Passage: Luke 4:1-13
Date: 24 Jan 2021 at 9.15am
What encouragements do we draw from the idea that God himself, in Jesus, has lived a fully human life? (See also Hebrews 4:15)
What is notable about the way Jesus responds to each temptation (verses 4, 8, and 12)? How does this help us understand how to live out the Christian life faithfully today?
Have you ever been through your own ‘wilderness season’? What did God teach you through that? How did that experience grow your knowledge and understanding of him?
Extra: In this passage the devil tempts Jesus in three ways. How might we summarise the ‘essence’ of each of these three temptations in a sentence? What might equivalent temptations look like for us today, either as a church, a nation, a village, a culture, or individuals?
Sermon: Luke (3): Jesus - the promised King
Passage: Luke 3:1-22
Date: 17 Jan 2021 at 9.15am
Universal Message: How did the opening of the passage remind us that this message is for everyone?
Uncomfortable Message: John the Baptist was the forerunner to Jesus and he prepared people by preaching repentance, warning of hypocrisy and discouraging false assurance. How does his message still resonate with us today?
Unequivocal Message: Christians are 'united with Christ' and so in Jesus we too are treated as 'Sons'. Imagine the Father speaking those words of affirmation over you - 'you are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased'. How does the verdict of a Father make us feel and help us to live for him?
If you were talking with a friend who thinks that Jesus is just another good teacher, or prophet, how might Luke’s account give you confidence to answer them? In what other ways did the passage help us to consider answers to common objections about Christianity?
Extra: Why was Jesus (who didn’t need to repent or be cleansed from sin) baptised? Read this short article
to think further.
Sermon: Luke (2): Jesus - Light of the whole world
Passage: Luke 2:22-38
Date: 10 Jan 2021 at 9.15am
How might we respond to a friend who says Christianity is just a 'tribal religion'?
Why is Jesus being a light for the whole world both a comfort and a challenge? Which of these do you most need at the moment?
How can we encourage each other to respond to God's light, and to reflect God's light? Try and be specific.
What can we learn from Simeon and Anna's example about:
a) Waiting (especially in hard, lonely, and unfulfilled times)?
b) Contentment? One commentator writes, "Here are two people near the end of their life, still serving God full steam ahead. Contentment is not a matter of age or energy level, neither is it a function of accumulation. It is defined by an openness to serve God and to share him with others."
Sermon: Luke (1): Jesus - Written into human history
Passage: Luke 1:1-4
Date: 3rd Jan 2021 at 6pm
Have you ever had moments where you've thought to yourself, "Am I crazy to believe in the Christian story?" How does Luke 1:1-4 help give you assurance that it is true?
Why is it so significant that Luke consults "those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses" (v.2)? (See also 1 John 1:1-4)
What difference might the "certainty concerning the things you have been taught" (v.4) make in our daily lives, especially during lockdown?
Extra: Luke was a scientist, a medical doctor (see Colossians 4:14). Why do you think science and religion may be perceived to be at odds today? Is this fair? This 90 second video might be a helpful conversation starter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enB9DREJuVM
Beginning in September 2020 our Connect Groups will be studying the letter of 1 Peter together, to coincide with our preaching series at our 9.15am and 10.30am services. Please read an introductory letter from Stuart Silk.
This November, we're asking each Connect Group to take one session to look together at a short study on the theme of Stewardship:
Connect Group Extra sessions: