The Community Guide below is based on Sunday’s teaching for the Matthew series. As your whole Community gathers (online or socially distanced), use the Community Guide below to give shape to your night together.
Begin by Practicing the Lord’s Supper Together (5 minutes)
Begin your night by partaking of the bread and the cup together. Have each person bring their own Communion elements. To facilitate your time, you can either ask a member of your Community to come ready with a short prayer, liturgy, or scripture reading, or assign someone to read the scripture we’ve provided below and spend a moment in silence before continuing.
Praise Yahweh, all you nations;
Extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
And the faithfulness of Yahweh endures forever.
Emotional Health Check-in (20-30 Minutes)
We want to continue to create space for checking in on each other, but doing so in a shorter amount of time. Take a few minutes to do an emotional health check-in with your Community, creating space for each person to answer the question below:
- What are a few things you’re anticipating in this season, either with excitement or heaviness? Is there anything Community can do to support you in that?
If the need arises, spend a few minutes praying for one another, asking God to meet needs and help each person carry what feels heavy right now.
Read this Overview (5 Mins)
As Matthew tells the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, he leaves out a lot of the details. He also seems to make vague the question of who actually killed Jesus. After a series of handovers — from Judas to the crowd who arrested him, from the crowd to the Sanhedrin, from the Sanhedrin to Pilate, Pilate to another crowd, and the crowd to the soldiers — it seems as if everyone had some part to play, but didn’t want to take actual responsibility. Scholars think that part of Matthew’s intention in doing this was to invite readers to picture themselves as among those who killed Jesus. We are in the crowds who demanded his death, among the soldiers who abused and mocked him, in the courts of the officials who apathetically let the crowds determine his fate, and with the disciples who abandoned, betrayed, and denied him.
For many, the discomfort in this implication is reason enough to give into the temptation to skip the cross and jump to the resurrection. But if we do this, we miss the whole point of the story: Jesus’s life led, willingly, to his own death as a way of revealing how deep and profound God’s love for us is. Matthew’s invitation to read the story of the crucifixion is an invitation to meditate on the reality that God would do anything to bring us back into relationship with him. This week, we want to spend some time reflecting on this truth.
Debrief this Sunday’s Teaching (20 Minutes)
With that in mind, work through the following discussion questions as a Community:
- In your faith, have you spent more time considering Jesus’ crucifixion, or resurrection?
- Of the characters in the story of Christ’s crucifixion, who do you identify with most? Why is that?
- How has your understanding of Jesus’ death on the cross impacted your perception of God’s love for you?
Practice For The Week Ahead: Meditating on The Crucifixion (5 Minutes)
This week, we want to take Matthew’s invitation seriously and spend some time reflecting on the crucifixion of Jesus. This could look like the following:
- Invite the Holy Spirit: Get into a quiet place and invite the Holy Spirit to make you aware of his presence.
- View the Crucifixion: If you don’t have a crucifix, you can look up an image of the crucifixion online. Either way, we would invite you to spend some time looking at or holding this image representing the brutal way in which Jesus was murdered.
- Talk to Jesus: As you hold this image before you, begin to have a conversation with Jesus. This could include confessing sin or shame, thanking him for this sacrifice, or even sharing with him how uncomfortable you are doing this.
- Listen to Jesus: Remember that prayer is never transactional and always relational. So invite the Spirit to reveal to you the profound depths of God’s love for you through Jesus’ death. How does Jesus want to bring comfort to you? How does he want to speak forgiveness over you? How does he want you to know his love?
After spending some time engaging Jesus in dialogue, simply thank him for this time, invite him to continue speaking to you, and go on with your day. Consider sharing what your experience was like with someone in your Community.
Prayer (20 Minutes)
Spend a few minutes praying for God’s grace over each other, that we would become a people who aren’t afraid to sit in the discomfort of life around us, as we learn to become not just people of the resurrection but also people of the crucifixion.