Week 2: December 06, 2020— Clean-Up Crew
Note to the Teacher
Last week, we discussed the idea of preparing a home and ourselves for the arrival of guests or family. Examining ourselves, by thinking about our emotional, mental, social, and spiritual health helps us prepare for company. When we examine ourselves, we might discover clutter or baggage that has been weighing us down. Perhaps that baggage interferes with our feelings and affects our actions when loved ones arrive. If we forget to do some self-reflection and self-care in preparation for Christmas, could we find ourselves acting distantly with our neighbors and family? Even worse, could that clutter or baggage prevent us from celebrating the arrival of Jesus or cause us to not easily show our love for God or our neighbors? This week, we are going to discuss getting rid of things that clutter our hearts and minds. Think of it as the equivalent of looking around at a room you are familiar with, but looking at details. Often, things in a room that we use the most don’t really get seen unless we’re paying close attention. Think about dust building up on ceiling fans, or fingerprints or oils from your hands building up on doors, handles, or even light switches. The same kind of buildup can happen within us, so it is worth slowing down and paying attention to anything that feels empty, heavy, or just a little bit off, as we prepare for Christmas.
How do we start this internal reflection? We begin with a time of prayer because that is where worship begins. We pray, learn to pray, and practice praying. We pray because we know that there is power in prayer.
This second week of Advent, we pray. Prayer can prepare us to act or give, or to serve or work, and even to give mercy or to seek mercy.
1. Ice Breaker: Scavenger Hunt Part 2 (10 minutes)
Online Meeting Adaptation: If you do this remotely, have students leave their cameras in one location and run back and forth to get the items one at a time. Otherwise, see what students can find around the church. The first person who returns, or returns to the camera, gets the point that round.
Here is the list for the scavenger hunt: A mobile phone, pet food, waffles or pancake batter, a tablet, school ID or badge, a spatula, syrup or honey, camera, chips or popcorn, fishing pole, bat, tennis racket, hockey stick, a CD, record, or cassette, a lightbulb, a paint brush, a recorder or harmonica, straw, pants (not ones you are wearing), pepper, remote control, soap, wall art/decor, towel, cheese
Ask students: “Which of the things you got for the scavenger hunt do you think is the dirtiest thing that you picked up? Why?” (Odds are it is actually the mobile phone because of how much touching/breathing/getting used while on the toilet that poor device goes through! Yes, even dirtier than a toilet seat.)
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Invite students to help you read, if possible.
Today, our scripture reading comes from both the Old Testament (Isaiah) and the New Testament (Mark). We will use multiple scripture passages from the Old and New Testament over this six-session series.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
Pick and choose the questions most appropriate for your group.
In both passages, there is a lot of imagery and language about the “wild” or the “wilderness.” In your experience, is the wilderness a place of cleanliness and purity, or a place that is desolation and dirt?
Why do you think it was important for a “voice to call out from the wilderness” to help people prepare for God’s arrival? (Maybe ideas about outside perspectives, not being able to see the forest for the trees, or us being too close to our own messes so we don’t recognize issues or alternative behaviors could come up here.)
How could we invite friends and neighbors “from the wilderness” to help us clean up and organize the clutter in our homes or our hearts? What kind of relationship characteristics would be important for this invitation to be made and the follow through meaningful?
What is John proclaiming near the end of the Mark passage? What does baptism have to do with cleanliness?
The Isaiah passage compares people to grass and flowers. What do you think that means? Since we are people, does that metaphor apply to us too? Why would that matter in this season?
Are there changes, or pieces of clutter or baggage, which you’ve already noticed that you want to spend some time discussing? Even if you’re not ready to discuss aloud, consider writing down one or two things that you’d like to pray about this week to help you prepare your heart to welcome the Christ child.
Reminder: For our times together during this series, our class is learning about getting ready for the birth of Christ and welcoming him into our hearts. We always want to make space to identify, pray about, discuss, or reflect on attitudes or behaviors that we think could interfere with our ability to be in meaningful relationships with our friends, neighbors, family, and ultimately God through our understanding of Jesus. Make time for those conversations in place of questions or activities, especially if a youth has noticed something that they would like to work on changing.
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
Take this lesson to the next level by getting involved with the scriptures using the following activity. We will be using a different version of our senses each week. Re-read the Mark passage from above two more times. In the first reading, encourage students to sit still and close their eyes and listen. They are going to approach the story as if they are news reporters in the field, learning all they can about the information so that they can make their own news reports. Especially consider the eccentric characteristics of John the Baptist, as well as location, and the context of the story. By this point, John has his own set of followers, and is a bit of a rock star operating on the outskirts of his culture. Have youth imagine what a modern-day report about John and his behavior would look like.
Next, re-read the story again and encourage students to note any vital information they need for their news reports. Allow the students to use their Bibles to help them recall what the Mark passage says. In the end, offer students the opportunity to come to the front to be “on-air" reporters to share their reports. If gathering online, encourage students to use creative backgrounds if they have cameras and computers with that capability. You could also encourage creativity in reporting by assigning different mediums to different youth (or pairs or groups of youth) – consider just how different news comes across your feed if you see it on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, a magazine/newspaper, a local TV news station, etc.
Encourage students to think about what the story would have sounded like the first time it was told. We “may” all know this story, but it would have been brand new to Mark's original audience, and part of it may have sounded unbelievable. If youth are unwilling or unable to do the news reporter activity, consider asking them how people today might respond to this story if they are hearing it for the first time. How long would it take for someone to respond, “Fake news!” or have some other kind of commentary about the unique appearance of John, his radical behavior of baptizing, or his prophecy about who is coming after him?
Online Meeting Adaptation: This can easily adapt to video meetings by having students tell their reports from their homes. Online sessions already look like broadcast journalism! Play with backgrounds, have youth create short videos on the app or platform of their choice and share those.
Total Length of Week 2 (50 minutes)
- Computer with speakers or TV
- Bible to read scripture
- Crayons or colored pencils