Pastor Christian Simas – Mark 4:35-41

December 18th, 2016

1. In the beginning, God created everything and called it good. What brought about the brokenness that we now see in creation? What statement is God making with Jesus incarnation, perfect life, atoning death, resurrection, and ascension?

2. What impact does God’s redemptive plan have on the rest of creation (see Romans 8:18-25 & Revelation 21:1-5 if needed)? With this knowledge, in what way are we as Christians equipped to face, embrace, and steward a corrupted creation?

3. Looking to our passage, in what ways do we sympathize with the disciples who, in their distress, have Jesus in the boat with them? Do we forget that the transcendent God of the universe is also the immanent God with us? Give examples.

4. What is the “Hypostatic Union” of Christ? Why is it important that Jesus be fully God, but also fully man?

5. Reflect on our advent season. Take time to praise God that he is with his people. Praise him that nothing lies outside of his control even when we fail to see how. Thank him for his first coming, and look eagerly to his second coming when redemption will be completed, all things will be made new, and God will dwell with man.

Pastor Christian Simas – Acts 9:1-19a

December 11th, 2016

1. Recapping our Advent season so far: How has God made peace with us? How does that create peace within for the internal war that wages on?

2. Saul was going around ravaging the Church, “entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison” (Acts 8:3). Why then does Jesus ask Saul why Saul was persecuting him? What are the implications of that question for us?

3. When God tells Ananias to go and heal Saul’s sight, Ananias is a bit reluctant at first. Why was Ananias fearful to approach Saul? What barriers hold us back from engaging others that we wouldn’t otherwise engage (inside and outside the Church)?

4. Sins can be both committed (doing what you shouldn’t) and omitted (not doing what you should) where do Saul and Ananias (only could have) fit in? Where do you fit in? Are we just as aware of our sins of omission as we are of our sins of commission?

5. In light of the gospel, and through Christ’s body (the Church): How should our love be tangible? How does the Kingdom of God become visible? Why is peace inevitable?

God of heaven and earth,
in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy city
to which the nations of the world bring their glory.
look upon us and visit the cities of earth.
Renew the ties of mutual regard that form our civic life.
Send us honest and able leaders.
Help us to eliminate poverty, prejudice, and oppression,
that peace may prevail with righteousness,
and justice with order,
and that men and women from various cultures
and with differing talents
may find with one another
the fulfillment of their humanity;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Book of Common Prayer

David Lipari – Luke 7:36-50

December 4, 2016

1. The Bible says that mankind is sinful from the womb, and because of that we are by nature enemies with God. For the Christian, how has that sinful nature been overcome? Does this mean that we no longer fall into sin? Why or why not? Describe this indwelling tension (see Romans 7:14-25)

2. The passage tells us that “a woman of the city, who was a sinner” came to Jesus weeping and washed his feet with her tears and hair (vv. 37-38). This woman seems to be in turmoil and is letting it all out at the feet of Jesus. How are our relationships to Christ the same as hers? What turmoil are you facing that needs to be brought to the feet of Jesus?

3. How does Simon the Pharisee react to Jesus’ interaction with the sinful woman (v.39)? In what ways can we be a community that does not despise people for their former lives and current struggles, but look upon each other in love? How does this loving community interact with non-believers as well as fellow Christians?

4. Read vv. 40-42. How we view our sins will be reflected in how we view God (big sin = big God, small sin = small God). What does the Bible have to say about human sinfulness (see James 2:10 & Romans 3:23 for help if needed)? How do we tend to look at our sins (big debt or little debt)?

5. Jesus tells the sinful woman to “go in peace”. As Christians, where do we find unwavering peace when our soul and flesh are warring with each other? Share with each other how you find peace in Christ even when you may be in turmoil within.

Pastor Christian Simas – Luke 15:11-32

November 27, 2016

1. The Parable of the Prodigal Sons begins, like our own story, at home with the Father. How does the younger son value this relationship? How are our own stories like that of the younger son? What do we go searching for outside of relationship with God that all along is found within? In what ways does God the Father turn our eyes back toward home?

2. We see in this parable that we can avoid God’s grace through outright rejection, or meticulous obedience. In what ways, like the younger son, have we hoped for the benefits of God without having to live in obedience to, and relationship with, Him? How have we, like the older son, fallen into trying to merit that which can only be received by grace, through faith?

3. **Even though the younger son meant to earn his way back into his father’s house, shockingly his father has compassion on him, runs to him, hugs him, kisses him, and reinstates him to his former status as an heir with a robe, ring, and shoes. How has God finally and completely done this for us, his prodigal sons and daughters? Discuss the implications of being a co-heir with Christ.**

4. The parable states that there was a group of people celebrating when the prodigal son returned. How can we as a community better reflect this rejoicing, hospitable, and welcoming group of people?

5. Close your time meditating on, and rejoicing in, the grace of God in Christ that through faith says over us, “For my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” (v.24)

Download The Advent Guide