Before the Session
Facilitator: In advance of the session
- Review today’s scripture text and the session activities to help better facilitate the discussion.
- Have the Bible Background Video ready to view.
- Encourage your group to listen to the Faithelement podcast ahead of the next session (Share the link via email or social media)
Share this NCAA Forecast video with the group and ask:
- Given that the tournament is over, how do you feel about the predictions you heard and why?
- What were you expecting to see happen before the tournament started?
- If you are one of those people who did not follow the tournament – not everyone loves sports, after all – how did you feel about the whole spectacle and why?
- In what ways do the moments of excitement that take place before a big event color the way you interpret that event?
- How does being an “insider” or “outsider” to the event color our anticipation and later response to it?
- What is the next “big societal event” that is coming up, and what expectations are you bringing to it?
Read Matthew 21:1-11, then watch the Bible Background Video.
Ask questions like these:
- How familiar is this story for you and why?
- Why does the story of Jesus on a donkey feel special?
- Imagine that you are one of the two disciples sent to get the donkey. What might you be thinking or wondering?
- What do you think this crowd expected to see as they gathered to greet Jesus and why?
- What did they ultimately expect from Jesus and in what ways did their reception play into that?
- Matthew 21:1-11 describes a city in turmoil. When a community is in a state of disruption and chaos, what often happens among the leaders?
- In what ways does this affect the life of regular people?
- What does Jesus’ arrival on a donkey convey to people in such a turbulent situation?
- The Bible background video said that Jesus was making a claim against the leaders in power at this time. How might this be an unsafe thing for someone to do and how might it be different for us now than it was in those times?
Share this article from Christianity Today, sharing and discussing highlights from the story like:
The denomination stated that Dr. Moore will not be fired, and he made a statement: “First, let me say that my concerns last year were not primarily about the election as the election. My main objective is not normally the questions of who is up and who is down in political races (though some are called to do just that, and do so well). I see my calling as seeking to offer resources to help churches form consciences of Christians to connect the gospel to ethical and moral and social questions.” Ask:
- What does this statement say about the relationship between faith and politics?
- In what ways is this similar to the image of Jesus’ statement about power that was made by riding on a donkey?
Dr. Moore also said: “What I do know is that I—or anyone in this job—will have to talk about all sorts of controversial things. There may be times when what I believe is an issue of biblical truth or Baptist distinctive is wrong. There may be other times when I might be right, but many—maybe even most—people disagree with me. I don’t expect people to agree with me. My job is to speak to consciences, and to endeavor to provide the resources to pose the right kinds of biblical questions—even if you come to different answers.” Ask:
- How do you feel about this statement and why?
- What happens to people who speak out of their convictions to the gospel when many people in their community disagree?
- Why do you think people can be so assertive about their faith, yet turn so hateful when challenged by it?
- How can we listen to people who make disagreeable statements and discern whether their ideas align with the good news of God’s love?
- Who are some leaders in the Church today that say disagreeable statements that we nevertheless might need to hear?
Dr. Moore offered an image of bring offerings as a child to his Baptist church. He said, “We have too much at stake, and too much for which to be grateful, to be divided. The gospel wins over everything in the end. I pray that the gospel would win in our denomination, in our churches, and in my own heart. The same gospel that reconciles us to God is the same gospel that allows us to be reconciled to one another. I learned that from y’all. That’s why they gave me those Southern Baptist missions offering envelopes.” Ask:
What is the power of using this image of a child’s offering envelope?
- How can an image, like the envelop or like the donkey, inspire our faithful imagination?
- Dr. Moore claims that God is more powerful that the powers that would divide us. As a group, think about the things that divide you from people you know and how you would fill in this blank for this sentence: “God is more powerful than _______.” Share your responses.
Pray together, using the group’s statements as a prayer and thanking God for the image of Jesus on a donkey.
Writer: Erin Hall