God, Worship, and Us
Blended • November 22, 2020 • Sherry Harris
Read Psalm 100:1-5 1) Covid-19 has already taken so many of the traditions and rituals that form a web of love for our lives. How are you dealing with the necessary changes of a Thanksgiving and even Christmas in a pandemic? 2) The words of today’s psalm speak of singing, joy, gratitude, and thanksgiving. Is it difficult to find those emotions at this particular point in your life? Why or why not? 3) What does it mean to you that we are God’s people and the sheep of his pasture? Where do you find comfort in that verse? 4) How are you living out the joyful words of our Psalm reading in a world filled with fear, confusion, and grief for the life that has been taken away from you because of the pandemic? 5) No matter what your Thanksgiving may look like this year, what will you be grateful for in 2020?
Whose Side Are You on?
Blended • November 15, 2020 • Bill Brunson
Read Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus does not speak much about judges or Judgement Day, but in today’s passage we see Jesus on the throne separating the goats from the sheep or the unrighteous from the righteous. 1) Jesus used the images of sheep or goats to separate the faithful believers from pretenders and unbelievers. What is the criteria Jesus uses in our passage to determine if someone is a goat or a sheep? 2) Do you think a professed Christian can still be judged as unrighteous? Why or why not? Give examples. 3) The real evidence of a Christian is not just our beliefs, but also our actions. How well do your actions separate you from the unrighteous? What could you do to improve? 4) Judgment comes every single day in the things we do and the things we neglect to do. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? 5) What would happen if we treat every single person we meet as if that person was Christ: the guy at the freeway entrance asking for help, the worn out mom with two screaming children in the grocery check-out line, your friends, your family or the people you work with?
Blended • November 8, 2020 • Kipp McClurg
Read Matthew 25:1-13 (New International Version) 1) Before hearing the sermon on the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, what did the story mean to you? Is it one of your favorites or one you mostly ignore? Why? 2) 2020 is a year of confusion, upheaval and unanswered questions; it was a time of confusions, upheaval, and unanswered questions when Jesus told this parable. Why do you think Jesus used a story about five wise bridesmaids who had extra oil and five foolish bridesmaids who ran out of oil? What point was Jesus trying to make to his listeners then and now? 3) Which set of bridesmaids do you most identify with: the wise or the foolish? 4) There were three main points in the sermon: 1. The Bridegroom intends to return. 2. No one knows when the return will happen. 3. Plan for a long wait or a short wait. Discuss these points and what they mean to your life now. 5) We must be prepared for Christ’s return spiritually, mentally, and physically. Do you feel prepared in those three areas? What else could you do to get ready?
For All the Saints
Blended • November 1, 2020 • Bill Brunson
Read Revelation 7:9-17 1) What is your definition of a saint? 2) John Wesley’s favorite Sunday of the Christian year was All Saints Sunday. It reminded him that we all stand in a great chain of witnesses. What does it mean to you that you stand with all who have come before you and all who will come after you? Does it influence your faith life? 3) Sainthood is a lifestyle where you put Christ first, take the teachings of Jesus seriously, and live counter to our culture. Who have been the saints of your life? How did their influence change you? 4) In today’s scripture reading, we are told that those we love that have passed into an eternal home where there will be no hunger, thirst, or pain and God will wipe away every tear. Do you take comfort in this promise both personally and for those who have gone before you? Why? 5) Saints are not an elite group; any of us could be a saint if we live like Jesus. Do you think you are a saint in someone’s life? If not, why not?
We Are the World
Blended • October 4, 2020 • Bill Brunson
Read Philippians 3:4-14 1) What are some moments in the history of our country and of the world when we have come together in a powerful way? Give examples. 2) How has Covid-19 connected our world in ways we had never imagined? Give examples. 3) In verses 7-8, Paul tells us that his achievements and his heritage were worthless compared to knowing Christ. How have you seen placing confidence in self rather than Christ affect your relationship with Christ? 4) What would you need to change in your life to place all your confidence in Christ instead of self? 5) Due to the pandemic, our church is receiving the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation in various ways: in our homes, in outdoor worship, and also inside our worship spaces. Despite the separations, do you still feel connected with the body of Christ at Vestavia Hills UMC? Why? 6) On World Communion Sunday, Christians are gathering around the Lord’s Table in a great wave sweeping around the world. Does this give you hope and if so, why?
United in Christ
Blended • August 9, 2020 • Bill Brunson
1) John Wesley, the founder of our denomination, urged Methodists to take Holy Communion as often as possible. Why do you think he held that viewpoint? Do you share his attitude? 2) Jesus prayed that all his disciples (that means us) may be as one. We are living in a divided, divisive, and tumultuous time in our history as Americans. What can you do to build bridges and encourage oneness in today’s world? Give examples. 3) The Lord’s Table is where the entire body of Christ comes together. What does this mean to you? 4) What do you need to put away in your life to be as one in the body of Christ as you come to the Lord’s Table. Anger? Resentment? Disappointment? Fear? Confusion? Lack of trust?
Blended • May 31, 2020 • Bill Brunson
1. What are you waiting on or anticipating in your life now? Has this changed since the COVID-19 Pandemic? 2. Pentecost is considered the “birthday” of the church. When is your “faith birthday?” Was it a specific moment in time or a gradual realization? 3. On the eve of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, he promised his followers he would send the Paraclete/Counselor/Comforter/Advocate that would be with them forever. Jesus kept his promise and the Holy Spirit arrived with a mighty wind and tongues of fire. What does it mean to you that God always keeps his promises? 4. The Paraclete or Holy Spirit literally means “called to one’s side.” How do you feel knowing that the Holy Spirit is by your side in life? Does it make a difference in how you live? 5. When have you most powerfully felt the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? What changes occurred?
Four Guiding Principals
Blended • May 24, 2020 • Butch Williams
1. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all know what it means to keep alert, but what does it mean in our faith life to keep alert? 2. When have you stood firm in your faith and what happened? What happens when we do not stand firm as Paul admonishes us to do? 3. We are all living in widely uncertain times. How has your faith allowed you to be strong and courageous despite the anxiety, confusion and fear? 4. How would your life and our world be different if everything we did was done in love?