Note to the Teacher
This week is about finding hope in challenging times. It is about restoration. Keep that in mind as you process through all these elements. The icebreaker will help students work together as a team. The discussion dives into the Bible reading from Isaiah, exploring hope and restoration in tough times; and the activity helps students turn their hope into a visible reminder either in the youth ministry space or in their homes.
1. Icebreaker (10 minutes)
A shot in the dark
In this team-based game, students will work together to shoot playing cards with rubber bands. Before the game, attach clothespins to the bottom of playing cards to serve as stands. Put a row of playing cards on the clothespin stands at the end of a table on one side of the room. To begin, divide into teams and appoint one student on each team the “reloader,” another the “shooter,” and the rest as “directors.”
The game begins with the shooter being blindfolded. The reloader hands the shooter a rubber band, and the shooter tries to hit one of the cards. The directors then shout changes for the shooter’s aim while the reloader hands the shooter another rubber band. The team that downs the most cards in a minute wins. If you have time, you can do a multiple-elimination tournament-style series of rounds.
2. Read Isaiah 2:1-5 (5 minutes)
Have students read the verse and then tell them that it was written during a time when there was a lot of persecution of God’s people. Explain that the time then was a hard, dark season. Then, read the passage again.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- How do you think the writer feels about the future? How does the fact that the present is so difficult change the power of this passage?
- When have you experienced a hard time? Where were you able to find hope? Were there messages that would have been helpful for you to hear during that dark time?
- Can you think of a time that a friend or family member was going through a tough time? What messages or actions were helpful for them?
- Think about the birth of Jesus that we celebrate on Christmas. How might Jesus’ birth give people hope?
- How can that birth story give us hope today? How does your church talk about the birth of Jesus?
4. Activity and Discussion - Ornaments/Garlands of Hope (20 minutes)
Before you begin, cut strips of foil wrapping paper and gather sharpies. Give each student a set of paper strips and a sharpie or two. Invite students to think about what gives them hope in this season. They may be looking forward to family gatherings, a school break, or some other thing. Ask students to turn the paper on the back side and creatively draw or write something that gives them hope in this season. Once they have all had time to create their strips, invite them to share what they wrote and drew. Talk about how all the good things that give us hope are gifts from God. Once students have had time to share, you can go in two directions: creating something to leave in your space during the next several weeks or an ornament for students to take home.
If you want students to create something to take home, purchase enough clear, fillable ornament balls at a local craft store for each person. Invite the students to fill the balls with the strips of paper they prepared earlier. To have students create something to leave in the youth ministry space, pop popcorn and gather cranberries or some other decorative elements. String the pieces of foil paper (created earlier with messages of hope) between the popcorn, cranberries, or other festive elements to create a garland of hope to hang in the youth gathering space. Invite students —one at a time—to string their slips of paper and decorations.
Total time: 50 minutes
- Playing cards
- Rubber bands
- Fillable ornaments or thread, needles, popcorn, etc.