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.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
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:
- Is there any new information you’d like to share with the group? What will this next season look like for you, and how could others support you in it?
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)
The authors of the Scriptures came from a culture that was built around the concept of honor-shame, a culture in which what you do or don’t do has the capacity to bring honor or shame to your community. Everything, therefore, was about connection — you were who you were connected to. So as we read Matthew’s narrative of the crucifixion, we are invited to keep this honor-shame context in mind. This would suggest, and strikingly so, that every choice made by the people who crucified Jesus was intentional. From the robe, to his nakedness on the cross, to the mocking, to crucifying him in a public place — all of this was intentionally chosen to increase the amount of shame experienced by Jesus and, because this is a communal culture, experienced by those connected to him.
It was not sufficient that Jesus be silenced through death. The religious and political leaders of the day sought to silence not only his voice, but also his influence, his reputation. They wanted to ensure that every person associated with Jesus felt the weight of shame for what they did, so that they would never do something like it again.
This week, we want to remember how Jesus endured this shame and stood triumphant. On the cross, Jesus was reversing what took place in Genesis 3 (the fall) and restoring what was lost in Genesis 1 and 2 (union with God and creation). We get to remember that because of what Jesus did on the cross, we are lifted out of our shame and restored to a place of honor.
Debrief this Sunday’s Teaching (20 Minutes)
With that in mind, work through the following discussion questions as a Community:
- Have you experienced or witnessed a person or group attempting to use shame to silence another person or group? What was that like?
- Everyone either has experienced or currently does experience shame in their life. On the cross, we see Jesus endure our shame and emerge triumphant and honored. How are you experiencing Jesus help convert your shame into honor? Or how do you need him to?
- How can others be praying for you in this area?
Practice For The Week Ahead: Confession of Shame (5 Minutes)
This week, we want to remember the honor that Jesus won for us when he endured the cross by stepping into a new freedom, specifically a freedom from shame. Shame is connected to a belief about our worth, a belief that God made a mistake when he created us. Shame is an insidious lie that corrodes our sense of self and our ability to feel the love of God. The louder that shame speaks lies over us, the harder it is to feel the truths of God.
One way to begin releasing the shame we hold is to look at it honestly, confess it before God (and if appropriate, God’s people), listen for God’s real response to you, and then respond by taking back ground that that shame held. This week, take some time to work through this process.
Name: Invite the Holy Spirit to bring your attention to an area of your life where you feel shame. It doesn’t have to be a new revelation; you may be well aware of it. Neither does it need to be big; while it could be, it does not need to be something attached to a profound area of trauma. One helpful guiding question could be: Where and when in my life do I feel a strong, overwhelming desire to hide?
Confess: Next, confess this area of shame out loud. It could be helpful to share this with a trusted friend, therapist, or member of your Community. It could sound like, “I feel ashamed about the way I talked to my roommate last week.” or “I feel shame about my body. I wish it was different.” or “I feel stuck in my fight against porn/eating/alcohol/weed/etc. and it causes me so much shame.” When you speak this out loud, you are externalizing it, which can help you to look at it more objectively.
Listen: Either with the person you confessed your shame to or by yourself, invite the Spirit to speak his truth over you. If God’s base emotion is not fear, guilt, or shame, but love, what would he say to this area of shame? How does he want to bring you comfort, peace, and honor in the part of your life where you are holding shame?
Respond: As you sense Jesus bring more freedom to the place of shame in your own life, consider how you might be an agent of honor to those who experience shame. This could be through organizations who work with those experiencing houselessness like Because People Matter, those in foster care like Every Child, refugees like Refugee Care Collective, or with adults in custody like Know Me Now.
If you aren’t in a place right now to do some of this deeper work, or if you’ve already done significant work around shame in your life, perhaps just consider that last section, Respond. Who is someone in your life right now that you could bring honor to?
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 respond to Jesus’ sacrifice by giving our lives to participate in His mission of restorating honor to those in our world.