Watch Night

God of the Dark and the Light

Watch Night, Year A

For some, this is a quiet observance, spent in prayer and reflection in anticipation of the new year to come. Others use the opportunity for a joyous celebration of the grace already shared and the promise of God’s presence in the future.

Note to the Teacher

This week, we have a typical lesson format again! We know this is the Saturday before Sunday, but feel free to use this lesson however it works. If you happen to be having a New Year’s Eve gathering, this would be a great way to pause and have some spiritual time during celebration.

This week, we find ourselves in an in-between moment, between Christmas and the new year. This in-between-ness is a powerful place to reflect on life and where we find meaning. The passage we find in Ecclesiastes is a perfect prompt to help students ponder these things. This lesson will focus on deciding where to focus and what gives life meaning and purpose.

1. Ice Breaker: Meaningless Meanings (10 minutes)

Before you begin, write several topics that might be on the minds of your students on a whiteboard or flipchart. For example, you might write “Christmas,” “New Year,” “family,” “going back to school,” “fireworks,” “church,” and so on. When students enter, give them each a 3x5 card and writing utensil. Tell them you are going to be making up new words to describe experiences that happen around the topics on the board. They are to write their new word on the front of the card and the definition on the back of the card. It will help to give them an example or two:

Christmanxiety – The feeling you get on the night before Christmas

Shocksome – The feeling of shock mixed with awe, like when a huge firework explodes in the night sky.

Once the students have finished, have them hand the cards to you. Read the words and definitions out loud and have students guess who created each word.

2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)

For this scripture, pass a Bible around and have students take turns reading a verse at a time.

Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-13.

3. Discussion (15 minutes)

  • What was most surprising in that passage?
  • What was something you disagreed with in this passage?
  • Does remembering that there is a time for everything help or hurt a teen’s outlook on life? How so?
  • Look back at the list in verses 2-8. What time is it in your life right now? Select a couple of the things from the list to describe your current experience of life.
  • Read verses 12-13 again. Do you think this is true and/or good advice? How do you think people would live differently if they believed this to be true?

4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)

This passage of scripture reveals a powerful truth: nothing in life is forever. This concept is a comfort in hard times: the hard times won’t last forever, and it is a caution in good times: don’t take this for granted. When we keep this truth in mind, it helps us weather the storms of life and savor the good times. This activity will help students to do just that.

Explain this truth to the students and tell them that they are going to spend time creating their own list of good and hard things like the one in Ecclesiastes. As a group, they will make a list of good and hard things that happen in the lives of teens in the area. Try to find a way to arrange their answers in pairs — mimicking the passage from Ecclesiastes. When someone names a generally positive thing, ask the students to name the bad version or opposite, and vice versa. Once you have a good list, divide the words among the students and invite each student to write his/her words creatively with symbols or depictions that echo the words. Each word should be on its own sheet of paper.

Once the students have finished, put the words in their pairs on the wall. Begin by saying, “There’s a season for everything and a time for every matter under the heavens”; then say, “A time to [good thing] and a time to [bad thing]” until you reach the end.


  • 3x5 cards
  • Writing implements
  • Paper
  • Markers, pencils, colored pencils, etc.

In This Series...

Las Posadas, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Blue Christmas, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Christmas Eve, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Christmas Day, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Watch Night, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes New Year's Day, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes