Housegroup questions on Jeremiah 29:1; 4-14

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Lots of questions to choose from!

Duncan began the service on Sunday by asking us what we would do in a hypothetical situation. We were coming to church as usual, but the building had gone. There was no minister, no caretaker, no elders, no board members, no music team. There was no possibility of attending another church in the vicinity. What would we do? You might want to spend a little time reflecting on that scenario, and what course of action would be appropriate.

Duncan spoke about the major trauma the people of Judah faced when the Temple and the City of Jerusalem were pillaged and destroyed, and many of the Jews, including the leaders, forced into exile in Babylon. They had assumed that city and Temple would always be safe, as God was with them. Would anyone like to share about an event in their lives which was utterly devastating, and in which their faith in God was shaken. How did they react? Were they tempted to abandon their faith? What happened in the longer term?

Duncan talked about the experiences of ‘exile’ which people face today. Did this resonate with anyone? Is anyone conscious of feeling like ‘an exile’ in some situation – feeling ‘out of things’ or feeling that the world has moved on so that it now seems a foreign country, or feeling rejected because of health issues or convictions? Someone who is depressed may feel ‘in exile’ from their true self. Did the passage provide any encouragement?

Thinking of present-day immigration, do verses 5-7 envisage immigrants maintaining their own cultural identity, or blending with the surrounding cultural climate.

Does the passage have anything to say about how we can support immigrants coming into our area?

Can you imagine a situation where someone coming to church might sit on the pew, surrounded by other people, and yet feel ‘an exile?’

One of Duncan’s main points in the sermon was that the Church of Scotland is seen by some to be ‘in exile’, no longer a major force in Scottish society with a nationwide reach. Does the group agree with this assessment?   Is it helpful to distinguish between the Church as a big organisation, and the Church as groups of individual believers?

What about the health of the Christian church in general in Scotland – can it be said to be ‘in exile’?

Duncan pointed out that for the Jewish people, the Exile was an opportunity to creatively explore new ways of doing things – from which local synagogue worship emerged. What can we do as Scottish Christians to ensure that the Christian good news makes an impact in our society in future?

The Jews were tempted to listen to false prophets who said (see, eg chapter 28) that the exile would only be short lived (verses 8-9.)  Are there any messages we hear in Christian circles today which may not actually reflect God’s heart?

Duncan told us about Shona’s exercise with the young people, envisaging the church as a lifeboat which is coming dangerously close to sinking, and deciding what can be dispensed with to aid its buoyancy. How can we be sure that the lifeboat we choose is one which is truly unsinkable?

How do you think Jeremiah might have responded to someone who heard his message about God’s promises (v11-14) and said ‘This is so not fair! God is telling us that only after seventy years – by which time most of us will be dead – will we be able to seek him find him. Only then will God’s plan kick in! Why are we missing out?’

Can we apply verse 11 to our lives as individuals!

What would you say to someone who quoted the old song This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through and commented that all believers are exiles, for our home country lies in a different place. How might such a person find this passage helpful?

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