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Monday, April 18, 2011

ROOTED: THE STUDY GUIDE

STUDY GUIDE FOR ROOTED

PRELIMINARY: ROOTED has a lengthy intro and a lengthy conclusion. There are also five chapters, each corresponding to a Biblical garden, and the chapters are divided into seven sections. This division is used to allow people to finish a chapter a week by reading one of the seven sections per day. The study can be completed in 7 weeks allowing a session for each of the five chapters as well as one for the introduction and one for the conclusion. Naturally, a study leader can modify this. People might wish to spend two weeks with each chapter, for instance, thus creating a 12 week study. In that case, the questions I’ve laid out here as a guide can then be allocated to the modified sessions they best address.

INTRODUCTION – THE GARDEN PATH

1) Gardening used to be a big thing for a lot of people. For some it still is. But for many, a vegetable garden is a thing of the past, and they might only have a few flowerbeds to tend. What has been your experience with gardens? Have you ever had them? Do you have one now? Did your parents or grandparents have any?
2) What have you learned from gardens and gardening? Has it benefited you at all to have a garden or spend time caring for a garden? What lessons have you learned that carry over into other life situations?
3) What parables did Jesus offer us that have things like seeds or plants or crops or fields in them?
4) What teachings did Jesus give us that mention gardening or farming or agriculture?


CHAPTER ONE – EDEN

1) What are your thoughts on why God might have decided to establish a garden in a world that was already perfect and beautiful?
2) Why do you think the test of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was necessary?
3) Why do you think God permitted Satan and the angels who rebelled with him to live? Satan and demons have caused much harm in our world – why wouldn’t God just kill Satan and his angelic followers once they rebelled to begin with?
4) What special gifts from God arose out of humanity’s fall into sin that didn’t exist before that fall?
5) Have you noticed promises in Scripture that lead you to think God might restore a place like Eden again for his people?


CHAPTER TWO – EN GEDI

1) Why do you think God put the Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon in the Bible? Do you think it is just about celebrating love between a man and his wife or is it about celebrating other kinds of love as well?
2) Why do you think God inspired the author of this book to use poetry instead of prose to write it?
3) Do you believe there is a connection between Jesus’ love for us, and his death and resurrection ,and certain passages in this book, or do you find that interpretation fanciful?
4) Why do you think this book is rarely preached from anymore even though in past generations of the Christian Church it was used a great deal?
5) Do you think our world’s understanding of love defines love as beautiful, but very soft and weak? Do you think the Bible portrays it that way? Do you yourself think love is stronger than death or hell or evil or darkness? If so, how do you know that?


CHAPTER THREE – GETHSEMANE

1) Have any of you ever been to Israel? Have you been to the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane? What was that experience like for you?
2) Why do you think Jesus often used Gethsemane as a place of prayer when he was in Jerusalem? Why didn’t he use any other place?
3) Do you think it was possible for Jesus to have rebelled in the garden, to have disobeyed the Father’s will and to have refused to drink from the cup that had been prepared for him? Could he have rebelled and broken relationship like Satan did when he was still a beautiful archangel?
4) Why do you think the praying took place in a garden before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion? Did it happen just because Jesus liked to pray in such a lovely and peaceful environment or do you think there were connections with the Garden of Eden that God meant to highlight? If so, what were some of those connections? How did what Gethsemane was like and what happened there differ from what Eden was like?
5) Do you think the name Gethsemane and what it means had anything to do with Jesus and what happened to him there, even though the place was named long before he used it for prayer?


CHAPTER FOUR – THE GARDEN TOMB

1) Is it a coincidence that Jesus was buried in a garden? If not, what makes you think so? Do you think it was part of God’s plan? If so, why do you think that?
2) The Jews believed the Messiah would come at Passover. They had scriptural reasons as well as reasons that arose over the centuries. While it’s true that Christ was crucified and then rose from the dead at Passover, do you think he might have been born at Passover as well? Where in the Bible, for instance, does it say he was born in December?
3) What connections are there for you between a spring garden and Christ rising from the dead in a spring garden? How meaningful are those connections? Could those connections have been established before the creation of the world – was spring meant to symbolize Christ’s resurrection long before it occurred – or is that too fanciful an idea as far as you’re concerned?
4) Why do you think Mary could not recognize Jesus until he spoke her name?
5) Do you think Christ’s resurrection in a garden bursting into bloom has anything to say to you about the promise of your own resurrection after your death or about the ways God wants to bring you back to life right now?


CHAPTER FIVE – SECOND EDEN

1) What passages in Revelation make you think back to the first garden in Eden? What are the similarities? What are the differences?
2) People often see Revelation as a book of doom and gloom. Why do you think the passage about God wiping away every tear from his people’s eyes is missed? Or the parts about his being among his people or sin and death coming to an end? Why are all the beautiful colors and garden imagery and the sounds of music often overlooked?
3) Why does God begin the Bible with a perfect garden that is violated and then end the Bible with an image of a perfect garden of water and trees and peace that can never be violated?
4) How much time do you spend in Revelation? How many times have you read it? How often have you read and re-read the passages on restoration and renewal and closure? How often have you connected the book back to Genesis or to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection or to the rest of the Bible in a way that has nothing to do with end time prophecies?
5) Why do you think God felt it was important to give John this revelation for the Christian Church? Not just the judgment parts, but the parts about healing and beauty and the eternal presence of God among his people?


CONCLUSION – THE CHRIST PATH

1) What similarities do the Biblical gardens have with one another? What are the major differences?
2) Which is your favorite garden and which is your least favorite? Which one would you like to spend more time in? Which garden in this study has taught you the most? Is this garden the same as your favorite garden or not?
3) Why do you think God finds it important to use garden imagery as way of connecting with those who believe in him?
4) Do you think there will ever come a time on earth when gardens no longer exist, when humans no longer think tending gardens of any kind is important or a good use of energy and resources? If that should happen, do you think God’s use of garden imagery in the Bible will cease to have any meaning for people?

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