Group Life Study and Application Questions:
Opening Question: What are you anticipating and what are you dreading about Christmas?
Read Isaiah 9.1-2, 6-7 and Isaiah 11.1, 10
1. What is the "darkness" metaphor (Isaiah 9.1-2) and the "stump" metaphor (Isaiah 11.1*) telling us about our desperation. How have you experienced this?
2. In these prophecies where is the surprise? Why could we say that hope arrives? What makes the hope real and powerful?
3. Jesus is the Branch. He is the shoot that becomes a fruitful Branch. He is even called the Root. How he arrives is a mystery, but it is in the mystery that our salvation story is rooted. As you read the story of the conception of Jesus--Luke 1.26-39 and/or Matthew 1.18-16--try to speak into these questions:
What is a surprise?
What is a mystery?
What inspires awe?
What do you find hard to believe?
What do you choose to believe?
Why do you choose to believe this?
4. That God would choose this way (the birth of Jesus) to bring hope into our desperation, what does this mystery tell you about God?
What does this mystery tell you about us? About you?
5. What practical meaning and impact can this have on us? How can it make a difference this coming week?
6. Romans 15.12-13 says this:
12 And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.” Isaiah 11.10
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In light of this mystery, what could you do to become more hopeful and to bring more hope to others this Advent season? How could you become more intentional about sharing the true story of Christmas?
(*Note for Isaiah 11: Jesse was King David's father. The kingship of Israel was completely devastated and it appeared there was no hope of recovery. The prophesy is about a shoot that will become a Branch. And later, verse 10, this same person to come is call the Root of Jesse.)