Session 2: Incarnation
Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas
From Rev. Adam Hamiliton’s Advent Study for 2020
Opening directions and questions to consider:
• For those participating in the Wednesday 10 am zoom session: since we are doing this on-line, it might be difficult to guarantee that conversations will be confidential, so please consider all conversations as open.
• How do you understand the word incarnation? (if inclined, send definitions.)
Week 2: Session Goals
This session’s readings, reflections, activities, and prayers will equip participants to:
• Describe the significance of what Jesus’ name means in the context of the new testament stories about his birth;
• Articulate their understandings of sin and consider how the story of Eve, Adam and the serpent in Genesis 3 shapes those understandings
• Explore two major ways in which scripture explains how Jesus saves us from sin; and
• Contemplate how Jesus has saved, is saving and will yet save them.
1 minute of silence
In preparation for the study How does Jesus save?
Read chapter 2 and the assigned scriptures.
• What is your name’s meaning and origin?
• Why and how were you given your name?
• Have you ever wanted to change your name? If so, what would you have changed it to and why?
Viewing the DVD and possible discussion questions:
What does the name Jesus mean?
1. In your opinion, how prominently do Christmas celebrations in the church and in our culture focus on Jesus’s identity as savior?
2. Does the concept of “being saved” make you uncomfortable? If the subject comes up in conversation how do you respond?
3. Hamilton stresses that knowing Jesus is our savior affirms that we and others are loved. Whom do you know, this holiday season, who needs to hear God loves and accepts them? What actions could you take to share with them the good news of Jesus as savior?
Jesus name and the stories of his birth
The birth of Jesus the messiah
(we need a volunteer to read this)
18 now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the holy spirit. 19 her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 but just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the holy spirit. 21 she will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
1. Why does the angel tell Joseph to name the child Jesus?
2. Hamilton says, (47) “there’s a little naughtiness in us all.” Yet, Matthew calls Joseph a righteous man. How does the story show joseph’s righteousness? By what criteria do we recognize righteousness today?
3. That angel says, Jesus will save “his people.” Who were and are “Jesus’s people?”
4. Do righteous people like joseph need to be saved from sins? Why or why not?
Luke 2:8-13 new revised standard version
The shepherds and the angels
(we need a volunteer to read this)
8 in that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 but the angel said to them, “do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the messiah, the lord. 12 this will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
1. For whom is Jesus’s birth “good news of great joy” both then and now?
2. How does the angel’s message to the shepherds echo the ancient messianic hopes discussed in session 1?
3. How do these echoes shape our expectations of what it means to call Jesus savior?
4. Luke’s story of Jesus’ birth implicitly contrasts its central characters—the infant Jesus, his parents, and the shepherds—with people who represent the military and economic power. (2.1-2)
How Jesus saves
Romans 7:18-25 new revised standard version
(we need a reader.)
18 for I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 for I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 so I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 for I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with my mind, I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, I am a slave to the law of sin.
1. What conflict is Paul describing?
2. Have you ever experienced this struggle?
3. Do you believe “nothing good dwells in us”? Why/why not?
4. In the human body inherently sinful? Why/why not?
If time we will look at incarnation p. 63.
5. What are 2 understandings from Hamilton of Jesus’s saving work?
6. Why such variety in the ways and images scripture uses to explain how Jesus saves?
7. How does this variety shape what people believe in and outside the church?
8. What do you think of “existential crisis?”
9. We will look at 76 and Hamilton’s description of the “greatest existential crisis.”
• As we end this session,
• Would someone close us in prayer?