New Hope UMC

Chapter 1: Mary, the Virgin Mother (Luke 1:26-45)


December 1, 2016.

Key Verses:

"‘I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.'" (Luke 1:38) "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:42-43)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Glenn Houser,  Miles McCorison, Barbara Paul, Art Whetstone

We begin a 4 week study of the incarnation of Jesus. We dispense with the commercial clutter surrounding Christmas and connect with the real story of the birth of Jesus and its meaning for Christians. We begin with Mary, The Virgin Mother, reviewing the facts of her teen age life and selection by God and his messengers.   

Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1(Luke 1:31-34) What did the angel's announcement say about who Mary's Child was and who he was to become?

 Discussion question 2(Luke 1:34) In what way does Mary's "How?" question (1:34) to the angel's declaration differ from Zechariah's "How?" question (1:18)? Why was Mary rewarded and Zechariah disciplined?

 Discussion question 3(Luke 1:35) What does the virgin conception teach us about Jesus' nature? How central is the doctrine of the virgin conception to the Christian message?

Discussion question 4. (Luke 1:38) What is the essence of Mary's positive response to the angel? What can we learn from her response for our own lives? In what sense was Mary's response an "informed consent"? When we respond to God, what do we consent to? .

Discussion question 5. (Luke 1:42-43) In what sense are the titles "Blessed Virgin Mary" and "Mother of God" appropriate for Mary? Why are we sometimes hesitant to exalt her as "blessed among women"?


Chapter 2: Joseph, the Stand-In Father  (Matthew 1:18-25)  

December 8, 2016.

Key Verses:

"Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." (Matthew 1:19)

"When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife." (Matthew 1:24)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Glenn Houser,  Miles McCorison, Barbara Paul, Art Whetstone

This week we take up the role of Joseph in the birth of Jesus. The scriptural text for this lesson is from the first chapter of Matthew. Luke covers the conception of Jesus and the visit to Mary by the angel Gabriel. Now we see Joseph as a descendant in the line of David, as foretold in the scriptures. But is Joseph the real father despite his not being the biological father of Jesus? This question is answered through scripture. The other major question covered is the status of Mary, her pregnancy and her problems that causes in her society. This question is also resolved in scripture. The life of Joseph as a father is covered  

Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1What would Jesus have learned as the son of a carpenter? What experiences would this have exposed him to?

Discussion question 2(Matthew 1:19) What were Mary's options being pregnant and carrying a baby not her husband's? What kind of character did Joseph exhibit by deciding to divorce Mary quietly and leniently?

 Discussion question 3(Matthew 1:21) What is the significance of the name Jesus? Why do you think the angel gave the name to both Mary (Luke 1:31) and Joseph independently?

Discussion question 4. (Matthew 1:23) How did the prophetic concept of the virgin conception and the name "Immanuel" find their fullness in the birth of Jesus to Mary?

Discussion question 5. (1:24-25) What does Joseph accepting Mary as his wife say about his character? What is the significance for prophetic fulfillment of Jesus as a Son of David that Joseph "named" the child "Jesus"?


Chapter 3: The Shepherds' Sign of the Manger (Luke 2:1-20)

 December 15, 2016.

Key Verses:

"And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn"  (Luke 2:7) "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11, KJV)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Glenn Houser,  Miles McCorison, Art Whetstone

We return to the Gospel of Luke for a look at the actual birth of Jesus. Our study started in Matthew covering the selection of Mary and the conception and then we went to Matthew for a discussion of the role of Joseph. Now back to Luke where the circumstances of Jesus' birth including the presence of the shepherds are discussed. Brother Wilson gives us four important points to take from this lesson. 

  1. Jesus is born in history.
  2. Jesus is born in David's birthplace. 
  3. Jesus' birth is attended by hardship.
  4. Jesus is born in humble circumstances. 

We will discuss these and the implications each had on the world of that day and our lives of today. 


Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1(Luke 2:1-2) Why does Luke name the rulers in 2:1-2? What point is he making?

Discussion question 2Why do you think the journey to Bethlehem was difficult for Mary? Is pleasure an indication that we are in God's will or not? Any examples from your life? Extra Credit: Argue for or against this proposition: "Being a consistent Christian causes more hardships than just going with the flow."

Discussion question 3(Luke 2:7-8) Why do you think the message of Jesus' birth comes to shepherds, of all people? Why is Jesus born in a stable with a manger for a bed? This has to be intentional. What point is God making?

Discussion question 4. (Luke 2:11) What are the three titles of Jesus given by the angels? What does each mean? What does this tell us about Jesus' true identity?

Discussion question 5. (Luke 2:17-20) Great joy, praise, curiosity, amazement, telling others, thoughtful meditation. Which of these responses to the Good News are present in your life? In what manner do they show themselves? If some are missing, why? What can you do to recover these responses?

Chapter 4: Wise Men and the Christmas Star of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-12)

 December 22, 2016.

Key Verses:

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.'" (Matthew 2:1-2)

"On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh." (Matthew 2:11)

In attendance: Linda Heape, Mark Fairey, David Hutto, Cathy Hutto, Glenn Houser,  Miles McCorison, Sandra Whetsell, Art Whetstone

Matthew gives us the story of the Wise Men., aka the Magi. So who were these men? We know their names and that they hailed from the East. The author gives us three possibilities: Persia (now Iran), Babylonia (Iraq) or Arabia (like Saudi Arabia).  What was their religion? Certainly no Hebrew, although they were thought to have been monotheistic in their beliefs. What made them become to be called "wise men"? There are many questions about these three travelers and how they got to the town of Bethlehem and came to worship Jesus, who at the time was a young child. There are also other lessons to be taken from this passage in Matthew, which will foretell things to come in Jesus life and ministry. 

Discussion questions:

 Discussion question 1(Matthew 2:1-2; Numbers 24:17) What is the significance of the Star of Bethlehem that the Magi saw? Why do you think the Magi came to find the Christ-child when they saw the star? In what way was does prophecy prefigure this event?

Discussion question 2(Matthew 2:11a) What do we learn from seeing the Magi prostrating themselves before the child Jesus? What was the significance of this for them? How can we emulate this kind of worship?

Discussion question 3(Matthew 2:11b) Why was it appropriate for the Magi bring gifts to the Christ-child? How does the extravagance of their gifts reflect their heart attitude? What kinds of gifts are appropriate for us to bring?

Discussion question 4.  Read Matthew 8:5-13; 21:33-44; 22:2-13; 24:14; and 28:19. What do they have in common? What relation does the visit of the wise men have to Matthew's theme of bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles? How should we be applying this mandate in our own lives?