Note to Leaders: This week’s message was all about letting go of a painful past, something that may be difficult for people to discuss if they don’t know each other very well yet.  If you’re leading a new group or a group that has recently had a large influx of new people, you might take the first meeting of the semester just to get to know each other, eat dinner, etc.  Don’t feel like you have to discuss this week’s sermon if it’s not a good fit.  Use your judgment as to whether or not it is appropriate for your group.


Series Introduction

At the Movies is a series we do every year where we explore the Biblical truths we find in Hollywood movies.  So break out the popcorn.  It’s going to be an adventure!


Introduction

Note to Leaders: Watching this video is optional, but it may help give context to people who have not seen the movie or were not able to be at church.

Saving Mr. Banks is based on the true story of Helen Goff, who wrote under her pen name Pamela Travers.  Her best-known book, Mary Poppins, touched the lives of so many people that Walt Disney himself decided the book must be turned into a movie, but the irrationally eccentric author refused to sell him the rights for 20 years, fearing he wouldn’t do justice to her beloved characters.  She only relented after being forced to do so due to dire financial circumstances.

  • What is something in your own life (besides your spouse or children) that is so important you would have a difficult time trusting someone else with it?

In every great story there is a story behind the story.  Pamela’s past relentlessly impacted her present. When you hear someone else’s story, you realize how their past impacts who they are, but your past should never limit who you can become.

  • How does your past impact your present and your future?  Sometimes when we ask questions like this we think only of how the negative things in our past harm our present and future.  Don’t ignore those things, but think also about how the positive things in your past are beneficial to you.

Have a volunteer read Isaiah 43:18-19

The death of Pamela’s father due to his alcoholism wasn’t her fault, but she somehow felt that she was responsible for his mistakes and carried that burden with her.  So many of us are paralyzed by our pasts, whether it’s something we did or something that was done to us.

Isaiah 43 teaches us that while you can’t change your past, you can let God change your future.  God wants to do a new thing in our lives and offers us hope, healing, forgiveness, and grace.

What is one area of your life where you think God might want to do a new thing?

Have a volunteer read Philippians 3:13-14.

Pamela is finally able to let go of the past and move on with her life.  God wants us to do the same by embracing a relationship with Jesus.  Through that relationship, we have the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit brings us the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

  • Which of these nine fruit of the Spirit do you want God to grow in your life, and why is that one important to you?

In a particularly vulnerable moment, Walt Disney opens up about his own demanding and harsh father.  While Walt loved his father, he decided not to let his father’s challenging nature dictate his own future.

  • How might your life be different if you forgave and let go of the past?


Application

Letting go of the difficult things in our past isn’t often easy.  We’re rarely able to do it all at once, and we can’t do it without help from people we trust.  This week set aside some time to make an action plan for how you can continue the process of letting go of your past.

You’ll probably have a few things in mind that you want to include in your plan, and below are a few more to consider.  When writing your plan, be specific on what you will do, when you will do it, how often you will do it, who you will do it with, etc.  Non-specific plans rarely succeed.

  • Sharing your struggles with a close friend.

  • Continuing to check in with that friend on a regular basis.

  • Seeing a counselor.

  • Attending a support group.  (We have a number of groups at Eastside that may be helpful to you: eastside.com/careandrecovery)

  • Reaching out to someone from your past to ask for forgiveness.