Reflect & Respond: Week 2
In today’s post, you will find a variety of ways to reflect on Psalm 22 this week. Since God speaks to each of us in different ways, you, your family, or even your small group may wish to mix and match a number of the spiritual disciplines listed. No matter what “Advent-ure” you select, we hop that you will find an opportunity to connect more deeply with Jesus, the suffering Messiah.
Read one of these passages each day this week, and reflect on these questions:
What do these verses tell us the suffering of Christ brings about in our lives? What does the fact that God’s plan for our salvation was carried out in an unexpected way say to you about how He might be working in your life?
- • Monday, December 9: Psalm 22
- Tuesday, December 10: Hebrews 2:9-18
- Wednesday, December 11: Isaiah 53:3-12
- Thursday, December 12: Luke 9:18-27
Do a comparison of Psalm 22 and Matthew 27:27-54. What are the similarities you see in these two passages of scripture? What stands out to you most as you read these together?
GROUP RESPONSE: COMMUNION
Communion is the regular remembrance of the Messiah who suffered and died for us. Since the time that Jesus initiated this practice, believers have gathered in churches, homes, and communities to remember the faithfulness of the Messiah who bled and died to give us life. Take time this week to take communion with others. Reflect on Psalm 22 and use the words Jesus spoke to His disciples in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 as you serve commu- nion. If this practice is new for your community outside of corporate worship services, feel free to ask someone more familiar with serving communion for help planning a time of communion.
PRAYER: THE JESUS PRAYER
If you practiced the Prayer activity with us last week, you likely already noted the elements of lament in Psalm 22. And while Psalm 22 begins in one of the most famous laments in the Bible, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” it also ends in thanksgiving and worship as the Psalmist reminds us that God listens when we cry out for help (v. 24). Psalm 22 is a reminder that God never leaves us nor forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
This week, practice the Jesus Prayer, also sometimes called Breath Prayer. Breath prayer is a way that Christians from as early as the 6th century have practiced the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continual- ly; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” In breath prayer, we are reminded that just as we cannot live on only one breath of air, so also we cannot live on only one breath from God. Breath prayer reminds us that God is living in us. We even hear echoes of breath prayer in Psalm 22:2! Breath prayer is not a mean- ingless set of words that we mindlessly repeat, it is a way that we can practice abiding in Jesus.
Generally, breath prayer involves praying one phrase as we inhale and another as we exhale. This week, practice the Jesus Prayer, taken from Luke 18, first thing when you wake up and later when you go to bed. As you inhale, pray the words of Luke 18:38-39 “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God” and exhale Luke 18:13 “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” Breathe in and out slowly as your heart prays these words.
Jesus in His suffering demonstrated the ultimate act of humility. Spend time worshipping the Messiah and praying in a physical posture of kneeling, expressing humility and reverence. Consider using the hymn, “When I Survey the Wonderous Cross” (page 14), a hymn that speaks of Jesus’ suffering.
Spread the hope of Jesus in a tangible way. Think of a family or friend within your social circle who could use some encouragement. Find a way to encourage them through a tangible gift. Possible ideas are to make them a meal, bake cookies, send a gift with a note, pay a bill for them, etc.
Fast from going to something or spending money on a regular item. Use the money you would’ve spent and give this to some recommended community organization. Contact Missions Pastor Dan Ryan for some organizations in Milwaukee, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Monday, December 9: Place the magi in another room. These travelers remind us that Jesus’ followers would be from all nations. We hope for the day when people of all nations, together, will worship Jesus as King of all Kings.
- Tuesday, December 10: Bring out the figures of sheep and shepherds and set them outside of the stable. These will be the first to hear that Jesus is born!
- Thursday, December 12: Scatter some sheep figures all around the room. Let them remind you of how people are lost without the Good Shepherd, Jesus.
- Friday, December 13: Bring your sheep figures close to the shepherd figures. The shepherds were keeping watch at night when they heard the news about Baby Jesus!
CREATE: BAKE BREAD
This week, as we reflect on Jesus as the Suffering Messiah, it brings to mind the bodily death of Jesus upon the Cross, who cried out the words of Psalm 22, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” This week, bake bread using the recipe below, or your own favorite recipe, and reflect on what it means that Jesus, the Messiah, suffered upon the Cross for you and for me—to bring us hope. This is truly good news of great joy for all nations!
2 cups white flour
1 3/4 cups wholewheat flour 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450° F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Whisk together white and whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt. Add buttermilk slowly, until the batter is too hard to stir anymore. Sprinkle a surface with flour and gently knead the dough no more than 8 times, bringing together into a ball. Transfer to the parchment-lined tray and cut a cross on the surface, around 1/4” deep with a serrated knife. Bake 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 400° F. Bake 20 more minutes, or until the base sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer to rack and cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.