Week 1: November 29, 2020—This Place Is a Mess!
Note to the Teacher
Teenagers experience a whole rush of work before the Christmas season really falls into place. From taking finals, to end-of-year concerts and plays, to helping parents or grandparents prepare the house, a million things to do seem to eat up time while we’re trying to celebrate the “most wonderful time of the year!” In this Advent series, we encourage students to incorporate hospitality and inclusion of all people as they prepare their hearts for the season. Our questions are: “How will you welcome the Christ who comes?” and, “How will you welcome your neighbors and family you don’t know yet into your midst?”
Ice Breaker: Scavenger Hunt Part 1 (10 minutes)
Online Meeting Adaptation: If you do this activity remotely, have the youth leave their cameras in one location and run back and forth to get the items, one at a time. Otherwise, see what items they can find around the church. The first person back, or back to the camera, gets the point that round.
Here is the list: Youth group t-shirt, toilet bowl brush, toothpaste, a packaged snack, a serving spoon, a musical instrument, an animal, a roll of toilet paper, a water bottle, a book the students are reading or studying, flowers, a key to a lock, paper airplane, a board game or puzzle, candy, school swag, a DVD movie, a candle, packaged raw meat
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Invite students to help you read, if possible.
Our scripture reading today comes from both the Old Testament (Isaiah). We will use multiple scripture passages from the Old and New Testament over this six-session series.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
Is there anything confusing, or that you are immediately curious about in this passage?
The first time we read the passage, did you notice any phrases that had to do with cleaning or preparation? (Verse 6 . . . unclean)
If you had neighbors or family visiting, and you hadn’t had the chance to clean up or straighten up, how would you feel? What do you think they would think when they saw the mess?
Isaiah 64, verse 6 says, that we have become like someone who is unclean. What do you think that means in this passage? (Guide students toward an understanding that given the examples in verses 6 and 7, that the phrase “unclean” can easily be understood as “unprepared.” Significant rituals for cleanliness of body and spirit can be found all over the Old Testament, and forgetting [or not doing] these rituals would leave someone “unclean” and “unprepared” to be in the Lord’s presence.)
For our next six sessions, we will learn about getting ready for the birth of Christ and what it means to welcome him into our hearts. The big idea is this: Just like we prepare our homes for the holidays to possibly welcome guests and celebrate the arrival of the Christ-child, it is also important to remember to prepare our hearts. We can celebrate the birth of Jesus into our physical world by preparing our hearts. We literally want to make sure that we are prepared to welcome God into a world where we show our love for God by showing our love for our neighbors and our families. Sometimes, added family in our space also means added stress. Are there things that you and your immediate family do to mentally and emotionally prepare for visiting family members? Think about God being born into our world as a person, a guest about to have a profound physical experience.
Before this moment, God had never been a person. So, what can we do to prepare our homes and hearts for the arrival of the baby Jesus? Remember, God is showing up no matter what . . . we know that Christmas is the story of Jesus being born. So even if the world, or our hearts are messy, God is still there and on the way! And, as far as I know, cleaning up a bedroom has never caused lasting harm to anyone (that was a joke . . . laugh if able)
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
Take this lesson to the next level by getting students involved with the scriptures using the following activity:
We will be using a different version of our senses each week. Today, re-read the Isaiah passage two more times. In the first reading, encourage students to sit still and close their eyes and just listen to the reading. Encourage them to listen for the things in the scripture that would make noise or have a sound. Invite students to verbally share or chat those words together between readings. Next, re-read the story and encourage the students to draw an illustration of one of the items that would make a sound that were just listed. If youth need, encourage students to use their Bibles to help them remember what the passage says. You can also screen share or utilize links for students to reference if gathering virtually. Offer students the opportunity to share their drawings.
This activity can easily be adapted for video meetings by having students either draw on paper or on their mobile devices, utilizing screen share, and using audio/video platforms for discussion.
Total Length of Week 1 (50 minutes)
Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys/concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.
- Computer with speakers or TV
- Bible to read scripture
- Crayons or colored pencils