Simply Christmas - Week 1 Discussion Guide

CoreGroup Guide | Simply Christmas - Week 1
Guide written by Denee Bowers and Jenny Huffman


In the first week of this series we are thinking about being present. It can be easy to get caught up in gift giving, travel details, and party planning, but God is calling us to something much less complicated. This Christmas could look completely different if we are able to focus our minds and hearts on the people in front of us. 

Opening Prayer

Immanuel, God with us, we give you thanks for bringing us together today. Fill our heads, hearts, and hands with your Spirit. Give us grace for ourselves and one another as we seek to know you better and live out your ways. Amen. 

Ice Breaker

Where is your favorite place to be during the holidays? Describe it in detail. Who else is there? What are you wearing, eating, doing? 

The Head

Jesus’ birth came after years and years of prophecy. There was a sense of timeliness to it. As we move through the Christmas story it becomes clear that the people in the story could have easily missed the big event. If they were caught up in the past, or busy worrying about the future, they may not have seen what God was doing right in front of them. 

Matthew 1:18-23
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered 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 home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

  • Scripture tells us that Mary and Joseph both heard from God about Jesus’ birth. What do you think the experience was like of discerning what God was saying to them? 
  • It is said that Jesus will be called Immanuel, or God with us. How does the idea that God is present with us affect the way you think about God’s character?
  • Verse 1:23 above is quoted from a prophecy recorded in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Why is this significant?

The Heart

At Christmas many of us are in the thick of our busiest time of year. Our minds might be on our work, our family, or our many holiday plans. It is in the midst of the chaos that God reminds us that Jesus was sent to be present with us.

  • What area of life occupies the most of your mental space this time of year? 
  • What does it feel like when someone has offered you the gift of their presence? What positive impact was felt when they showed up? 
  • Describe the physical feeling of being in a place, but having your mind and heart focused elsewhere. How does that differ from the feeling of being present?

The Hands

Most of us don’t need more to do before Christmas. In the spirit of Simple Christmas, a mindset shift might be helpful. Consider how you can practice presence in the places you already are with the people who surround you. 

  • How can you be present to God during this season? The Gathering’s Advent Devotional is one simple way to make time for God each day -
  • When is a time during your week where you could slow down in order to offer your presence to someone else? 

Closing Prayer

Immanuel, God with us, we celebrate that you are not hidden away, but that you chose to be with us in our daily lives. In the midst of our to-dos and rushing around, you are with us in ways big and small.  We turn to you this season and pray that you would birth joy and healing, blessing and hope in us. Let something wonderful begin in us — something surprising and holy. Amen.

Going Deeper – Advent Wreath

Another name the church uses for the Christmas season is Advent. Traditionally Advent is a season of preparation and waiting for Jesus’ arrival. Advent wreaths are commonly used in churches and in homes to make the passing of the season. On Sundays, or each evening, candles are lit to signify the coming light of Christ. 

Gather up some (or one) candle you can light each evening. Keep it simple. Maybe light it at mealtime, say a short prayer, or simply take a moment to be silent and present before God. 

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