Note to the Teacher
This week is about the joy that comes from knowing that God is always with you. The icebreaker will create a fun environment to embody the idea of being “with” one another. The discussion will explore the radical “with-ness” of God. The activity will give students an opportunity to be God’s “with-ness” to their world.
1. Icebreaker (10 minutes)
Side-by-side obstacle course
This icebreaker game will help students have fun with the concept of being with one another. Before you meet, create an obstacle course out of whatever you have available. If possible, use blue tape to mark out a path on the floor with side boundaries that are just big enough for two sets of feet to fit within. When you begin, tell students that they are going to go through this obstacle course side by side. Invite them to pair up with another student. Explain that the pairs of students will link arms so that they are side-by-side. Instruct students to go through the course in that side-by-side orientation. They are not allowed to break arms, be front-to-back, or any other configuration. AND they cannot step outside of the boundaries. If they do, they must start over. Time students. The pair with the quickest time wins.
2. Read Psalm 146:5-10 (5 minutes)
Have a couple of students read the passage multiple times out loud. Encourage them to listen to each different voice.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- One of the things we celebrate in this season is the fact (and reminder!) that God is with us. Look back at this passage. Make a list of all the people or groups in it that might feel as though God is not with them.
- Share a story of when you felt totally alone. How did you feel? How often do you think about that? When alone, what makes it easy or difficult to feel that God is there?
- In Advent, we are waiting for a unique moment in Christianity: the coming of God to the earth in the baby Jesus. God wouldn’t just be with people in spirit; God would now become a person and walk among us. God was with humanity in person, and God had human experiences! Jesus’ birth is a physical expression of the reality that God is with us. How does that make you feel? What does that idea make you think about? Is any part of that idea of Advent and God and Jesus confusing or worth talking about more to help us all understand it better?
- The biblical writers talk about God being with us and that fact brings them joy. How might this season bring people joy?
4. Activity and Discussion - Letters to the lonely (20 minutes)
Before you begin, get a list of people who are alone in your community These might be shut-in older people or other groups. Get their names and addresses. Then, buy some Christmas cards to send to them.
Tell students that they are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. In the same way that Jesus’ coming to earth was a physical expression of God’s presence with us, we are to be that same presence in the world. To help people in your community who are lonely, students are going to write encouraging notes in Christmas cards and send the cards to those who are alone and need encouragement. Pass out cards and names and addresses to students and invite them to write encouraging notes to people. Then, ask the students to put the cards into the envelopes and address them. If you aren’t sure what students might write, you can ask them to not seal the envelopes so you can check the notes. Also, keep in mind that students may not know how to address an envelope. Be prepared to teach that as well.
Once students have finished writing and addressing, invite them to share how it made them feel to write the notes and how they hope the people receiving them might feel.
*As a follow-up, either mail the completed notes or, if time and energy allow, consider recruiting volunteer bakers/snack makers/drivers and hand-deliver the notes with Christmas cookies or other snacks and information about the Christmas Eve services at your church. If your church is supportive, consider offering rides for Christmas Eve services to these “lonely” folks in your community. Invite them to email the church office about rides to the services.
Total time: 50 minutes
- Blue tape
- Christmas cards
- Addresses of people who are alone during the holidays