Week 3: December 13, 2020, Deck The Halls
Note to the Teacher
After finding clutter or baggage and beginning to clean it up, what is the next step in preparation? Is it decorations? We’ve got the chance to make our space match our feelings of anticipation and celebration for the world-changing birth of Jesus. We don’t want to confuse the work we’ve been doing to prepare and clean with the idea of making our space or our hearts “sterile.” Sterile spaces are not inviting, they are not life giving. We want our space and ourselves to be welcoming and inviting. This helps set the stage for the arrival of Emmanuel, God with us, by making our hospitality to be breathtaking.
Where do we start? What do we include? Where is the line between tasteful decoration to enhance the space and creating something that is over-the-top, gaudy, and done to seek attention for ourselves instead of Christ? The nature of the community and the condition of our hearts impacts the genuineness of our ability to welcome. Our ability to be invitational takes center stage during this season, so our choices should reflect our intentional desire for inclusion, echoing the divine nature of Jesus, who came to work with and redeem the whole world. So, how do we include others? How do we draw them into the life of the church, whether that is in our building or not? How to we decorate to showcase a sense of welcome and invitation as opposed to decorating just to show off, because we can?
1. Ice Breaker: Wrap Up Game (10 minutes)
You will need one roll of wrapping paper, bows, ribbon, a roll of tape, and any other Christmas wrapping items you have available. Each team will “wrap” one member of their team, leaving a hole for the team member to breathe through. All other body parts must be covered. Give the teams five to ten minutes to make their best wrapped gifts.
The winners could be identified in categories: “Least Tape Used,” “Most Appealing,” “Most Covered,” etc.
Online Meeting Adaptation: Allow students to get wrapped up at home. Give them a week’s notice that they will need some supplies the following week; or go over the top and deliver wrapping supplies before your meeting! Students could wrap themselves or a family member. Students could also wrap a stuffed animal or toy in a deceptive way. Who can best disguise a teddy bear or other stuffed animal? Additionally, youth could consider items they would like to give away or donate as gifts. They could share about these items, and then decide how they will donate them. A very organized youth leader with time could even invite youth to drop off their toys (or leave them out on front porches) and then make the donation run on everyone’s behalf.
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 (John). We will use multiple scripture passages from the Old and New Testament over this six-session series.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
Do the Isaiah verses give you hope or make you sad?
In the Isaiah passage, what is being decorated and with what? Why are those things being decorated?
What do the verses of John suggest that he has come to tell the world?
If we take the verses of both John and Isaiah, we should find hope. Hope that no matter how desolate the world looks, or how confused we might be about a person in our lives, that righteousness and praise will leap up among all nations through the Messiah. In many ways, 2020 has been difficult. Even so, what things are bringing?
Who does John suggest will bring hope to the world?
Do these passages say anything about the idea of decorating our homes and churches for Advent and Christmas? What words jump out at you and make you think “decorations?”
Reminder: For our times together during this series, our class is learning about getting ready for the birth of Christ. The word “decoration” may sound superficial, so consider using the word “adorned” as you work through the questions and activities. To adorn something is to add beauty or to enhance something or someone as a sign of honor . . . not as a way to show off or be purposefully excessive.
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, we are going to make a garland of praise. Re-read the Isaiah 61:1-4 passage. Pay special attention to verse 3, where it speaks of receiving the garland and the mantle of praise.
Give each student four feet of garland (if you can meet together) and several craft supplies like paper, glue, markers, and ornament hooks. Ask students to write praises to God on the paper, add some extra decoration, and attach the papers to the garland. Try to refrain from making the garland a “garland of thankfulness” (things we are thankful for). We will be doing a thankfulness project in a couple of weeks. To help students find words for their praise, encourage them to look at psalms (such as Psalm 126) to give them beginning words. Praise is more about Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit, celebrating their holiness, goodness, generosity, and presence in our lives and in the world. Thankfulness is more about what we have or have experienced. Encourage them to take home their garlands of praise and place them somewhere in their homes as reminders of all the ways they can praise God during this time of year.
If garland is not available, making rings out of strips of paper and tape or staples can still provide a festive and custom garland. Stickers and markers can also be used to add to create a sense of adornment. This garland should enhance beauty or call special attention to the presence of Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit.
Offer students the opportunity to share a couple of the items on their garland of praise!
Online Meeting Adaptation Ask students to purchase garland or create some from construction paper at home, forming the construction paper into strips and paper chains. Any decorative material around the house could be used as well. Follow the guidance for making a paper garland in the previous section.
Total Length of Week 3 (50 minutes)
- Computer with speakers or TV
- Bible to read scripture
- Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
- Garland or green construction paper
- Christmas wrapping supplies