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MENTAL HEALTH, GOD & GRACE – FEBRUARY 2024

“Mental Health, God and Gracepoint” – Ian France – 11.2.2024
Scripture
Luke 10:25-37

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.

Observation
The lawyer would have been an expert in Jewish and rabbinical law. He asked a sincere question. Eternal life will happen for believers and unbelievers alike – but it is the quality of that life that will vary. This lawyer wanted to find out how to live in order to inherit the quality of life that comes from God.

Jesus asked His own question about what the Law said. The lawyer was able to answer this immediately. He understood what it meant to love God and to care for his neighbour in the same way he cared for himself. But who was his neighbour?

He made several mistakes in the assumption that he had obeyed the first part of the command well. But who has loved God with their whole heart, soul, strength and mind? And how can one love God in this way if one does not love one’s neighbour? He asked for clarification on who his neighbour actually was.

Jesus replied by telling this well-known parable. His listeners would know that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was notorious for the crime and robberies that occurred on it. Most people who were carrying valuables or goods would travel with a caravan, but this man, unwisely, travelled the route alone. Priests and Levites were two of the most frequent travellers on this road. They were compelled by law to show mercy and offer comfort to those who needed it. Neither of them did this for their Jewish brother lying on the road. For some reason they found an excuse to walk on and not stop to offer help.

The Samaritan, on the other hand did stop. If Jesus had said an ordinary Jewish man had stopped His audience would have understood He was pointing out the corruption of the religious leaders of that day. But He shocked them by saying the man’s helper was a Samaritan. There was no love lost between the Samaritans and the Jews and Jesus’ listeners would have understood if this Samaritan had also walked past. But Jesus had a point to make. The Samaritan had pity on the hurt man and stopped to help him. Without hesitation he used his own wine and oil to tend to the wounded man’s injuries, giving freely of both his resources and his time. The wine would have cleansed the wounds, and the oil would have eased the pain.  The Samaritan gave his own donkey for his Jewish patient to ride and would have walked alongside the animal.
As he left the inn he gave the innkeeper two denarii which would have covered any costs for two to three weeks.
Jesus then asked the lawyer another question. Who was this man’s neighbour? The lawyer responded it was the one who showed mercy. He could not bring himself to admit that the person who did this was a Samaritan – the person that most of the people there would have expected to be seen as the enemy.
Jesus made it clear that one’s neighbour is anyone in the vicinity of that person who has a need. He told the lawyer to go and behave in the same way towards those whose needs were straight in front of him.

Icebreaker:
Where have you seen the Cycle of Grace in action during this week? What part of the Cycle was occurring? How did witnessing this make you feel?

Application
What did you notice in this parable that you had not noticed before? Why do you think that impacted you this time?
Do you consider Gracepoint to be a congregation of Grace or works? Why do you respond in this way? How do you feel about your answer?
Do you see Gracepoint offering boundless Grace? How does this happen/not happen?
‘Neighbourly love includes risk; digging into pockets; taking time to make a detour from your plans.’ How do you feel about such a challenge when it is presented by your Church? As an individual – and as a congregation? What difference would it make to those you help – and to your own life?
Would you call Gracepoint a diverse congregation? Why/why not? How do you relate to people within the congregation who are ‘different from you’ in some way or another? Is this a challenge for you? Why/why not?
How many deep friendships do you have within the congregation? How did those friendships form? Who do you sit close to in the church service you attend whom you do not know? How can you form a friendly relationship with them that will help them to feel they belong?
How can you contribute to helping Gracepoint continue to be a place of extravagant generosity when you consider your time, your treasure, and your talents?  How do you feel about speaking about your assets with others?
In regard to your responses to the above questions, what one thing can you do to help Gracepoint be a congregation living increasingly in the Cycle of Grace, rather than in a cycle of works? How can you do this?
How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?
Prayer
Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.

Service
Take a step this week to put into practice your ideas as to how you can help Gracepoint be a congregation that revolves around God’s love and will within the Cycle of Grace. Be prepared to share what happens with the group next time you meet.

Video Notes: Week 5
Any of us can face burnout – but God’s grace is not just at the beginning. It goes all the way through.
The Cycle of Grace does not only apply to individuals’ lives but to congregations too.
We need to reflect on whether our congregation conveys acceptance, provides sustenance, gives significance and whether grace flows out to the community around. Is there a cycle of grace or of works? The Rule of Life is a Christian spiritual practice about how we live in relation to God. We can use that to measure the balance in our lives.

We need to consider what helps us to grow in our lives as individuals and as a congregation. People can enter a congregation at any point of the Cycle of Grace.

When ministries draw life from God’s Cycle of Grace we are constantly refreshed and renewed.
We need to remember we are loved by God and His grace is the sustaining power and presence throughout our lives.

If possible watch the video clip for week 5 this week*:

Bibliography

Luke Chapter 10

 

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