Take time to introduce yourselves to one another and catch up on the past week (over drinks or snacks if possible). Then discuss the following questions:
Over this term, we’re exploring eight of Jesus’ claims, each starting with the words ‘I am.’ Not only will this help us understand Jesus better, but we’ll come to understand ourselves better too.
Ask for a volunteer to read John 8:12-20 to the group. Then pray a short prayer asking that, however much group members have previously come to know God, they’d know him better as a result of your time together.
Jesus makes his claim on the final day of the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37). It celebrated how God provided for his people in the wilderness, leading them with a pillar of fire. Read Exodus 13:21-22, which describes this episode.
By Jesus’ day, huge lamps were lit at night to help people visualise these events.
We might imagine that people would be drawn to one claiming to be the light of the world. But humans have a complicated relationship with light.
Jesus highlights what we’re really like. But he does this so that we might look to him, and receive life from him.
The study focuses on Jesus’ claim to be the light of the world in the immediate context in which his claim was made: at the Feast of Tabernacles. But the Old Testament’s use of light imagery may further help us appreciate the scale of Jesus’ claim.
The Old Testament’s hope of God rescuing his people, for example, is often pictured as a new light dawning (see Psalm 27:1, Isaiah 9:2, 42:6, 49:6). Isaiah’s two later references indicate that this rescue will not be limited to Israel, but extended to the world.
You might enjoy thinking about other places light is mentioned in the Old Testament – and what fresh insight this may cast onto Jesus’ claim.
One of the most common pictures used to describe mental illness in the Bible is darkness. You may find that talking about light and dark is a prompt for you or other group members to talk about their struggle with depression or feeling low. For some people, the friendship and prayers of an Impact Group will be a real blessing.
It’s important that this friendship is supplemented with the kind of care that an Impact Group can’t offer. If group members are particularly struggling, encourage them to talk to others about it – in a local church, with the university chaplaincy or counselling services, or with their GP.
Across centuries, Christians have lit candles as a reminder that Jesus is the light of the world. If it’s practical, you might like to light some candles at this point.
Split into pairs and threes, and encourage those who feel comfortable to pray aloud. Focus on the areas in which, in the world and in your heart, you know you need more of Jesus’ light in the darkness. Pray for friends you know who particularly need to know the comfort and truth of Jesus’ light.
You could close this section by singing or listening to the worship song, Light of the World (Here I Am To Worship).
If you’re able to sing in your group time, there are plenty of other songs that will help you reflect on how Jesus chases out the darkness (in the world and in us), including: Great Are You Lord; In Christ Alone and Way Maker.
Jesus claims to be the light of the world. He is good news for all people, wherever they’re from (see Isaiah 42:6, 49:6).
One of the best things about uni is making friends with those from other nations. Discuss:
This week, make a special effort to get to know these friends better. You could go out for coffee or share a meal. As part of your time together, ask if they’d be willing to talk about their experience of Christianity in their home country. (If you’re an international student, this could be with a friend from Britain). Listen attentively to their stories, learning all you can.
(You could share any highlights from your conversations in your group chat).
It’s possible that this friend may indicate that they’re interested in finding out more about Jesus. If so, why not invite them to join you at next week’s Impact Group?
Finishing your time together well is important, especially in the early weeks of term. We’re provided the acronym TACOS to prompt you to share details that will be important to your members.
Don’t feel like you need to follow the acronym formulaically, but do ensure you give clear instructions to those in your group.
Thank You – Thank everyone for coming, and ask someone to thank God for your time together in prayer.
Ask – Ask those who are new to reading the Bible if they’d like to explore Uncover, a set of sessions in Mark’s Gospel, allowing them to investigate one of the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life alongside one of you.
Church and CU – What does the CU have planned ahead? And what help would group members value in finding a local church?
Others – Who else could you invite to join your CU Impact Group next week? These friends don’t need to be followers of Jesus and may really appreciate being invited.
See You Soon – Tell the group where and when you’ll meet next week, and arrange who will bring snacks. (You might like to alternate healthy and less healthy weeks!). See if anyone would be up for sharing a meal or just hanging out in the meantime!
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