My house group decided to pick up the advent idea and do a series of Bible studies focused on that. It came to me to develop a specific idea though.
Initially I thought of meditating on the key players familiar from the Navity story – Mary, Joseph, shepherds and wise men. However, as I thought about it, two things struck me. Firstly, there isn’t that much to get to grips with for some of them. For example, shepherds feature as a group but none are identified as individuals. Secondly, there are other people in the story with much more written about them who tend to get completely overlooked. Therefore, with the three meetings we had available, we ended up looking at:
- Cousin of Mary and mother of John the Baptist
- A priest, Elizabeth’s husband and father of John the Baptist
- Simeon and Anna
- Devout old people from the Jerusalem temple, who see Jesus shortly after his birth (but probably before the wise men)
Their stories can be found in chapters one and two of Luke’s gospel. For each, we started by reading and discussing the relevant passages, engaging with our minds. Next, we took a few minutes of silence to meditate on the passage. The purpose of this was to let God speak to us either about the passage or about anything else. One of the wonders of the Bible is that it provides a place God has appointed to speak to us. Meditating on scripture is about actively listening to what God has for us in our lives as well as using our minds to mine the meaning of the text. We then finished each study with a time to share anything appropriate.
To be honest, it is a very easy way to organise a house group but also provided some precious times. I think we will return to a similar idea again but, this Christmas Eve, offer it as a possible inspiration for any who feel harried and rushed as the waiting of Advent is on the cusp of celebrating the Incarnation.