Note to the Teacher
The keywords and phrases in this lesson are “pattern,” “presence,” and “fruit.” One icebreaker invites youth to put bacon on things–bacon is the cornerstone of this game —as Jesus is the cornerstone of the church. Another icebreaker invites students to figure out a pattern in order to be able to go through a “green glass door” or “go on a picnic,” just as we follow the pattern of Jesus. Both icebreakers remind us that Jesus is at the center of our lives as Christians. The Bible discussion invites students to think about how they relate to the Israelites and the characters in our Exodus and Matthew readings. Students consider how God is present with them and how God gives them a pattern for how to treat one another and calls them out when they are not treating one another well. The activity allows youth to think about themselves as seed made in a certain way, planted in a certain place, and going through different cycles. God is with us through all the cycles of our lives, whether we are bearing fruit or not. Students will be reminded that God is with us for the long haul as we continue next week, too. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Icebreaker (10 minutes). Two options: ‘Bacon’ or ‘Green Glass Door”’
If your group likes bacon, volunteering, and taking turns, choose the high-tech option 1. If your group likes puzzles, choose the low-tech option 2. Have fun!
Option 1: High-Tech: “Bacon”
Jesus is the cornerstone of the church, and bacon is the cornerstone of this game! For this activity, the group will take turns using the game for smartphones called “Bacon–The Game” by Philipp Stollenmayer. You’ll need to download the app called “Bacon” ahead of time on your smartphone or tablet. If it’s a small group of five or fewer, you can all crowd around one smartphone or tablet. If you have a larger group, project, or connect your phone to the larger screen.
Have students draw numbers for what order they’ll play in or tell them they’ll go in order of birth date from youngest to oldest. Then, students take turns in each round of the game, putting bacon on Francis Bacon, putting bacon on the number 17, putting bacon on jeans, and so on. You’ll enjoy the music that ends each short round, AND there is an option to save the photos of each bacon achievement so you can post them to social media later.
Warning: the game is addictive, and students may not want to stop playing. Just let them know they can play again later.
Make sure to thank everyone for participating and say something kind, like, “Great bacon flipping.” If they weren’t that great at bacon flipping, you can say, “Great effort,” or “Y’all are so fun.”
Option 2: Low-Tech: “Green Glass Door”
Jesus is the cornerstone or pattern for the church. He gave us a pattern to follow for our lives with the way he lived. In this game, students will have to figure out what the pattern is that they’ll have to follow to go through the “green glass door.” Directions below. Be careful not to give the answer away.
DO NOT read the directions below out loud:
Tell students, “I’m going through a ‘green glass door,’ and I’m bringing balloons.” Then have them guess what they have to bring to go through the green glass door. They cannot bring the same thing you or anyone else brings. The key is that they must bring something that is spelled with double letters, for example, yellow mustard, green beans, or spoons. If they guess incorrectly, just say, “No, you can’t come.” If they guess correctly, say, “Yes, you can come.”
Play until you run out of time or until all students have been given a chance to figure it out. If they guess quickly, play another round. If a student gets it and wants to lead the next round, you can let the student lead with the following clue: “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing pickles.” For this one, they must enter with something that starts with a “p.” That one is easy, so you may want to start with that. Enjoy! This is a fun one to play on car rides, too, since all can make up what they are bringing and why.
2. Read Scripture (10 minutes)
In our first scripture reading, the Israelites receive the Ten Commandments from God as a pattern for a better life. In our second reading, Jesus tells us a story about a landlord whose tenants are cruel and disrespectful to his servants and even to the landlord’s own son. While you read, focus on three things: 1) How are these stories connected? 2) What do these stories tell us about what God is like? 3) What do these stories tell us about how God interacts with us/humans? Write or doodle to express your feelings, thoughts, and connections as these two stories are read. Share your thoughts with one another after reading using the discussion questions below.
3. Discussion (20 minutes)
- Are the Ten Commandments familiar? When is the first time you recall hearing or learning about them? Are there any that seem confusing?
- If you were God, what commandments would you give to humans so that they could live a better life in today’s world? How many would you add?
- What do you think God’s priorities are for humans based on reading the Ten Commandments that God gave to the Israelites?
- Do you think these commandments are hard to follow? Why or why not?
- How do you think these commandments helped the Israelites feel the presence of God close to them?
- Why do you think they (the chief priests) wanted to arrest Jesus after he told this parable and why would the crowds have stopped them from doing so?
- If we think about our world leaders today as “the tenants in the vineyard” (they don’t own it, they’re just using the resources and people where they live to make a living) – how do they receive feedback about the jobs they are doing? Would their reaction be similar to that of the chief priests to Jesus’ story?
- What do you think about the idea that we are all “tenants” on the Earth? Borrowing the Earth and caring for it on behalf of God? What do we get right about being tenants? What do we get wrong?
In this series, we will continue to talk about how God is present with us all the time, in everything we go through, providing food, water, helpful commandments, and more. What do you think the Spirit of God is speaking into your life and heart as you hear about how God is present with you in your life?
4. Activity and Discussion (10 minutes)
Take this lesson to the next level by having students learn a little bit about fruit by interacting with the seed cycle and relating it to their lives.
Give each student a piece of paper. Tell them to draw a large seed, leaving some space around the seed. Yes, they can Google images of a seed if they need help! Let them know that the seeds they have drawn represent them. Tell them to fill the inside of the seed with things about themselves. Tell them that the space around the seed is where they live. Tell them to fill in the space around the seed with things about where they live, who they live with, and so on. Now, tell them to flip the paper over. On the back, they will draw the lifecycle of a seed in a circle. Tell them to listen as you tell them the cycle of the seed and to write the steps in the lifecycle down in the circle. 1. A seed is planted. 2. A seed sprouts. 3. A seed grows into a plant. 4. The plant bears fruit. 5.The plant dies, scattering its seeds. The cycle goes on and on because the scattered seeds start the lifecycle of the seed/plant over again.
Once students have drawn the lifecycle, ask them to write about times in their lives where they felt like they were starting something new—like the seed in step one of the lifecycle. Then, ask them to write about times when they felt that they were learning and starting to understand something. Next, ask them to write about times they were growing in some way. Then, ask them to think of times when they bore fruit (they achieved something or they helped someone, etc.). Finally, ask them to write beside step five, about a time when they felt they had to let go of something in order for something new to start in their lives. As they are writing, walk around and find nice things to say about their work. After everyone is finished, let students know that God has been with them through every cycle of their lives, even before they were born, and God will always be with them.
Option: Post a picture on social media of all the seed drawings with the caption, “We are like seeds; God made us who we are, and God is with us through all of the cycles of our lives —whether we’re newly planted, bearing fruit, or letting go.”
Discussion: Encourage everyone to look at the lifecycle drawings and share their thoughts:
- Ask students to talk about their seeds and lifecycles if they feel comfortable.
- Are there other ways that we are like plants and seeds?
- Do you think God cares about plants like God cares about us?
Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys/concerns or highs/lows from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.
- Computer and/or screen, smartphone, or tablet, “Bacon–The Game” app by Philipp Stollenmayer (High-tech icebreaker, option 1)
- If you have a smaller group, you may only need the smartphone and tablet and not the screen. It will be more fun with the smartphone/tablet displayed for the larger group.
- Paper, colorful pens, pencils, and/or markers (Activity/Discussion)
- Bibles or smartphones to look up verses of Scripture.
- Scrap paper and pens for students who like to take notes or doodle.
- Fidget toys for those who need something to do while listening.