Saturday, January 26, 2008

Party on Purpose

Here is this week's small group curriculum that complements part 2 of "The Table" series called "The Party at the Table."

Big Idea:
The church is a table of sorts; a place to gather for spiritual nourishment, life, laughter, and love. And yes, it is also a place to party. God has called us to the table to “party on purpose.”

God created and even demanded that his people party. In the Old Testament we see seven celebrations, called feasts, which God commanded. But, why did God want his people to party? These feasts allowed them to remember his goodness, to look forward to his future promises, and to glorify him. For instance, the purpose of the Passover party is to remember the deliverance of God’s people, to look forward to the Messiah, and in doing so glorify God. In the New Testament we see Jesus promoting parties that celebrate redemption – the finding of those things (people) once lost. God calls us to celebrate! But wait, I thought that following Christ meant giving up some of the pleasures of this world. I thought I had to live differently now. The answer is “yes”! Jesus said we “must take up our cross and follow him.” But, that doesn’t change the fact that God has prepared a party at the table anymore than long lines at Disneyland change the fact that you are visiting the “happiest place on earth.” God understands the importance of his people celebrating his goodness and he wants the table (the church) to be a place of celebration: a party of righteousness, peace, joy, purpose, fulfillment, blessing, prosperity, increase, and thanksgiving. Simply stated, when we gather at the table we are called to celebrate the glorious things God has done, the lives he has transformed, and the promises he will fulfill.

Discussion Questions: (read the Scripture & discuss)

Exodus 12:24-28:
Who called for the celebration? Why did they celebrate? What things do you need to celebrate in your life and in your church? Why?

Luke 15:1-10 & 20-32
What was the response to finding the lost sheep and coin? When does Jesus say we, along with heaven, should throw a party? Who does the brother of the prodigal son represent? What was his response to the party? What is the father’s response? Is this our perspective or do we wish the party was about us and for us? How does this change our view of the purpose of the weekend church service?

Luke 14:15-24
Jesus is throwing the ultimate party and has sent out his invitations. Who is invited? What is the celebration? Who will be allowed to partake in the cake, ice cream, and party favors? What happens to those who found excuses to not attend? Do you think we ever give excuses? Are you aggressively inviting others to this party? If not, why?

Taking Action: Does your small group party together? Intentionally spend time at each of your gatherings celebrating what God has done and is doing in your lives. Party on purpose and rejoice together.

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