Sermon Study Guide – St. Thomas’ Church, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

 

(Date: 30 Dec 2012)    “The in-between years”     1 Sam 2:18-20,26; Col 3:12-17; Lk 2:41-52

 

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favour. (Lk 2:52) That is how the Sunday gospel reading ends.

 

We only get one glimpse into the life of Jesus from the beginning until he was baptised and entered into his ministry years. Jesus spent thirty years out of the lime-light. After the birth narratives he only shows up once, as a twelve year old in the temple. What was Jesus doing all of that time? He was “increasing in grace and favour with God and the people”.

 

Jesus needed to grow in grace and favour with God and men and so He needed (and we needed him) to be in the temple questioning and being questioned by the experts in the Scriptures. That is what Jesus spent most of His life doing: growing in grace. His ministry years were only 1/10th of his lifetime. The rest of the time he was putting down roots with God and people- investing in his investment in God and human beings.

 

  1. What do you do to grow in grace and favour with God and people? How do you put down roots with God and people, investing in your relationships with God and the people God has surrounded you with?

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Leader’s Guide:

Many people think you are born spiritually inclined or not spiritual. Often people say “I’m not very spiritual” which usually means they have not cultivated that part of their nature. Everyone is spiritual by virtue of being a human being-: A human being is a soul with a body, mind and spirit. Many people allow their spiritual life to remain dormant instead of exercising and increasing it.

 

Human beings are created to increase in grace and favour, in full relationship with God and the people God has placed around them. That is what happened with the prophet Samuel as well. Just because God’s purpose for his life was to make him a prophet and a spiritual leader of Israel didn’t mean he could skip any of the stages of faith development. He had to grow just like everyone else- no spiritual pipeline for special spiritual people… Now the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favour with the Lord and with the people. (1 Sam 2:26)


 

  1. There are practical things that we can do to expand the inside of our beings. We stretch our muscles at the gym, and increase our cardiovascular capacity, and expand our vocabulary by learning new words but we don’t realize it is exactly the same way that we can expand our spiritual life, so that we become bigger from the inside out.

 

St Paul talks about how we grow in grace and favour. In the epistle for this week he lists a number of things Christians can do to open ourselves to the presence and work of the Holy Spirit with our spirits, so that our spirits can grow.

Can you give examples from your own life of how you have (or have not) used the above methods to grow in grace and favour with God and others?

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Leader’s Guide:

Go through the epistle text and have members discuss how we ‘clothe, bear, forgive, let, etc.’ What does it look like when these action words (verbs) are expressed in our lives|?

 

3:12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 3:13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 3:14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12-17)

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Close by praying aloud Psalm 148 (NIV)
1  Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights above.
2 Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
    and you waters above the skies.
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for at his command they were created,
6 and he established them for ever and ever—
    he issued a decree that will never pass away.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
    stormy winds that do his bidding,
9 you mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
    small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
    you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
    old men and children.
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,
    the praise of all his faithful servants,
    of Israel, the people close to his heart.

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