Advent 2012:  Christ the hope of the world.

advent candles

Introduction to the series:
During Advent this year we’re going to spend some time re-reading and studying a handful of very famous passages in both Old & New Testaments. 

As we do so I’d ask you to have in mind one over-arching theme which will guide our reflections and conversations and prayers.  The theme is Christ the hope of the world.

This year in the lead up to Christmas ‘Christ the hope of the world’ will be featuring in preaching and teaching, on flyers and posters, and at all our major services and events.  We want our community to know and to hear again, that in a world of uncertainty and struggle, we can put our hope in Christ and find a peace that the world cannot give. 
So, let me invite you to reflect on some familiar themes and readings, respond in worship and adoration, and proclaim afresh that Christ is the hope of the world!
For the duration of this series I’m going to suggest that we base our meetings around the 4W structure, although, of course, if you have your own preferred structure you are more than welcome to use it.
The 4W’s
The 4W’s are probably familiar to most people.  This method of structuring housegroup meetings came out of the cell church movement and is extremely helpful. 
In short it looks like this:

Welcome: enjoying relaxed time with one another. It usually includes chat about the past week (reflection), an 'ice-breaker' question to get people talking (activity); and it may include prayer or ministry if appropriate (response). It may include a meal or a cup of tea.

Worship: focusing on God, celebrating what he has done and is doing. We do not attempt to imitate congregational worship, but we use material appropriate for small groups.

Word: connecting the Bible to everyday life and helping one another to put it into practice. Reflection on what was learnt last week is important. The activity is teaching and application: finding out what God is saying, and what difference that makes. In many cell churches the subject is the teaching of the previous Sunday sermons, but the group may need to look at some other issue. If members of the group have not all heard the same teaching previously, there would need to be some teaching within this section through a tape or video, Bible study, or from someone with a gift of teaching.

Witness: focusing outside the group, thinking especially about the commands to love our neighbours and to make disciples. We reflect on what we've done in the past and try to learn from it, and for our activity we plan for the future or share one another's plans for individual witness and our progress or lack of it. We respond in prayer.

I hope that the above is helpful.
Our Advent series is based around the Sunday teaching themes and is as follows:
Sunday 2nd Dec:              Hope in the one who is promised
                                    Isaiah 40:3-5, John 1:6-18
Sunday 9th Dec:             Hope in the one who we need
                                    Isaiah 43:1-7, Matthew 15:1-11
Sunday 16th Dec:            Hope in the one who sets us free
                                    Isaiah 42:1-7, John 8:31-36
The teaching theme continues until the end of Dec but I assume housegroups are not meeting in Christmas week..!

Simon Butler, 12/11/2012