The backbone of our life together.
There are about 25 Connect Groups of up to a dozen people meeting in different locations, and at different times, in the parish and beyond for bible study, prayer and mutual care and support. We encourage every church member to be “connected” to a group (even if they are not always able to attend). Janet McLean and Janet Goodenough together co-ordinate our groups, and they are the people to contact if you want to find a suitable group.
During Autumn 2022, we will be looking together, in our morning services at the Mark's Gospel: The Suffering King.
The Suffering King (11) - 27th November (Dedication Sunday)
Sermon: Sacrifice - 'She did what she could' (6pm)
Passage: Mark 14:1-11
The Suffering King (10) - 20th November (Stewardship Sunday)
Sermon: Sacrifice - 'She put everything in' (9.30am)
Passage: Mark 12:41-44
This sermon is part of our Stewardship 2023 series. As part of this Connect Groups are encouraged to use the following resources:
The Suffering King (9) - 13th November
Sermon: Which is the most important commandment? (11.15am)
Passage: Mark 12:28-34
Share some of the things you really love - it could be a place, an activity, a person, a memory, whatever. Why do you find it easy to love these?
Read verses 29-30. Why does Jesus say loving God is the most important commandment? What does it mean to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?
'Love your neighbour as yourself' is a command is common to most world religions. In what ways is a Christ-like love of neighbour unique? Why is it more costly? (See also Philippians 2:3-7; 1 John 3:16)
Think of one thing you will do this week to love God more and one thing to love others more. Try and be specific. Share as appropriate and then pray for each other.
The Suffering King (8) - 6th November
Sermon: Give to Caesar what is Casesar's (9.30am)
Passage: Mark 12:13-17
Have a flip back through Mark's gospel (including chapter 3) - what has Jesus done to so antagonise the religious leaders? What does the partnership between Pharisees and Herodians show about their motives?
Jesus knew their hypocrisy - have a read of Matthew 15:1-9 for his assessment of the Pharisees. In what areas do we find our words and our actions towards Jesus being most at odds? How might you respond to the challenge that "Christians are hypocrites"?
Read Romans 13:1-9. What are some of the implications for Christians 'giving to Caesar'? In what areas do you feel most reluctant or unsure about respecting authorities?
We are double image bearers (Genesis 1:27 and Colossians 3:10) - how might being made and remade in God's image shape the way we live and speak in this world?
In what ways can we "Give to God, what is God's"? What things might Jesus have had in view? How might we apply this to the context of Stewardship?
The Suffering King (7) - 30th October
Sermon: The stone the builders rejected has become the Cornerstone (11.15am)
Passage: Mark 12:1-12
Re-read the parable and familiarise yourselves with what it means. Have a look at Isaiah 5:1-7 and Jeremiah 7:21-26 for some background.
So far in Mark's gospel Jesus has spent a lot of time in confrontation and argument with the 'religious leaders' - Why is Jesus harsh towards them? Why is the level of confrontation rising (look back at Ch.11)? Why has it now reached a crunch point? (v.12 - they seek to arrest him)
Some people reject the Son by living a very 'bad' life others reject the Son by living a very 'good' religious life. In what ways are we tempted to reject Jesus, building our lives on different foundations?
The Parable demonstrates God's patience (sending lots of servants), his loving concern (sending his Son), but also his just anger (v.9 - killing the tenants). How might this parable teach and warn us about God's judgement? How might you explain this to a new believer who finds it hard to understand God's anger?
Why is Jesus being 'the Cornerstone' good news for the whole world? How might you explain this to someone who doesn't follow Jesus? (Have a read of Ephesians 2:11-22)
The Suffering King (6) - 23rd October
Sermon: Whoever loses their life... will save it (11.15am)
Passage: Mark 8:34 - 9:1
1. Discuss examples of ways in which our culture is very 'me-centric'. How is this the opposite of the actions and message of Jesus?
2. Read verse 34. Why would this have come as such a shock to Jesus' original hearers? Why is it still hard teaching today?
3. The essence of 'denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Jesus' is to hand over control of our lives to him - time, money, relationships, status, ambitions, and so. Talk through what handing over more control to Jesus might look like for you. (It is very challenging, but try and be specific.)
4. Read verses 35-37 and discuss this quote from missionary, Jim Elliot: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
5. Pray for each other to be doers of the word and not hearers only (James 1:22).
The Suffering King (5) - 16th October
Sermon: "The first will be last, and the last first" (11.15am)
Passage: Mark 10:17-31
Why, when we break any of the Ten Commandments, do we always break the first one (Exodus 20:3)? Pick a couple of the commandments Jesus mentions in verse 19 and work through how this is the case.
"It's not so much about the having money, but the trusting in it that ruins the soul." (J C Ryle) Why can it be easier to trust money more than God?
Read verse 15 and contrast the rich young man. How can we be more child-like in our faith, especially when it comes to money?
How does a greater appreciation of Jesus as the ultimate Rich Young Man help us as we consider how we use money?
Pray we would have the right thing in the correct hand. (You will need to listen to the last few minutes of the sermon to understand!)
You can buy a copy of Tim Keller's book, 'King's Cross' HERE
The Suffering King (4) - 9th October
Sermon: "No longer two, but one" (9.30am)
Passage: Mark 10:1-12
The Suffering King (3) - 2nd October
Sermon: "Let the little children come" (11.15am)
Recording currently unavailable - sermon notes (PDF).
Passage: Mark 10:13-16
How do you get into Heaven? What answers do you instinctively think? What might your friends or neighbours say?
How do the contrasts (disciples, pharisees, rich man) help us to see what 'little children' are like? Which character's mistake are you most likely to copy?
What might a church look like that took Jesus' words about welcoming children seriously? (this week at prayer meeting, we'll be praying for our outreach to children)
If status and acheivements don't count for anything, and Jesus welcomes the weak and marginalised, how might we demonstrate this in the way we 'do church'?
Being part of God's Kingdom isn't about having stuff or being religious... it's also not about being weak/empty... but it's about what Jesus has done for us. How would you explain the idea of the Gospel as a 'gift' or a 'grace' to a friend who wanted to know more of faith?
Harvest - 25th September
Sermon: "Caring for God's Creation" (11.15am / 6pm)
Passage: Genesis 2 / Romans 8
What's your first response to Climate Change? Denial. Despair. Or something in between? Why might a Christian want to avoid either of these two extremes?
In Genesis 2:15, mankind was called to "work and care" for the Creation, to fill the earth. In what ways do can human beings rightly steward, care for and develop the creation? (Think big: God doesn't call us all to be environmentalists and gardeners...)
The Fall shows us that Climate Change is not the main problem, but a symptom of Sin - broken relationships between God and his world. How does the Bible teach us this? How might you explain this to a unbeliving friend?
The world is groaning "not with death pains, but birth pains" - how does Romans 8 give the Christian hope, even amid famine, flood and war?
How do the 'four lenses' - Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consumation - help us to better understand the world? Where does the secular narrative of Climate Change differ from the Christian view? Which lens are you most likely to neglect in your own thinking.
Think about how you as an individual and group might respond. Please spend some time in prayer for those suffering the consequences of climate events recently, especially those caught up in the floods in Pakistan. Here are some resources to help:
The Suffering King (2) - 18th September
Sermon: "This is my Son" (11.15am)
Passage: Mark 9: 2-13
In Mark 9 Jesus is revealed as the King of Glory. What things have you seen on your TV this week which have reminded you about the influence that Jesus has had, either in the life of the Queen or in the ceremonies that have taken place?
Have a look back at Psalm 2 and Psalm 24. How do these passages link to the events of Mark 9 and how do they deepen our understanding of who Jesus is revealed to be?
Read 2 Peter 1:12-21. What does Peter's account teach us about the events of Mark 9, and how does his testimony encourage us today?
Why does Jesus move so quickly from the glory of transfiguration, to talking about his death and suffering?
Jesus is presented as both the King of Glory and the Suffering King. Which of these aspects of Jesus' character are we most like neglect, and what would be the implications in our Christian life for failing to recognise one of these?
Extra: Discuss the quote from Tom Holland about the Cross and Transfiguration (linked).
Remembering Queen Elizabeth II - 11th September
Sermon: "What made the Queen so different from the spirit of the world?" (6pm)
Passage: 1 Corinthians 2:10-16
Following the death of her majesty the Queen, the Sunday services were revised to mark this sad occasion and to give thanks her life of service. We paused the morning sermon series on Mark's gospel, and the evening sermon kept the planned reading, but focused on the Queen.
The Queen's reign was marked by a Christ-like spirit of service. How might we model this in our lives this week? Be specific, and bear in mind the words of the last verse of 'The Servant King' - So let us learn how to serve / And in our lives enthrone Him / Each other's needs to prefer / For it is Christ we're serving
The Queen's service was rooted in her spirit of humility. James 4:6 say, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." How might we actively root out pride in ourselves and practice humility?
At heart, what made the Queen so different from the spirit of the world was she had "a living, active faith in a living Saviour" (Tim Farron, MP). She spoke about her faith in four particular ways: a) personally, b) with a focus on Jesus, c) inclusively, and d) showing faith in action. Pray for opportunities to do the same this week, especially in this time of national mourning.
Pray for the royal family in their loss, and for his majesty King Charles, that he would serve in the manner of his mother.
The Suffering King (1) - 4th September
Sermon: "Who do you say I am?" (11.15am)
Passage: Mark 8:22-33