Gulf is Crossed

Having Words with Jesus

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C

This week, we have a powerful story of reversal, the world turned upside-down. Or rather, right side up. This parable is what Mary sang about in the Magnificat way back at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. The poor are filled with good things, and the rich are sent away hungry; brought down the powerful and lifted up the lowly. Here it is acted out in the parable Jesus told to those who were ridiculing him because they loved money more than God’s kingdom.

Note to the Teacher

Learning Outcomes: Students will understand the importance of what it means to be focused on those in need, not just aware. Students will also talk about how to build a “bridge” to lessen the gap.

The discussion encourages students to think about the gap (or gulf in this lesson) between the rich and the poor or the privileged and underprivileged.

Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.

1. Icebreaker: Bridge Building (10 minutes)

Create a barrier in the middle of your room. You may use painter’s tape or paper to indicate the divide. You may put some of your group on the other side or use snacks or another reward.

The object of the activity is to create a bridge that students cross to get to the other side.

Using any objects in the room, create a bridge to cross the divide or “gulf.” (This does not need to be an actual bridge that is off the ground; keep safety precautions in mind.)

Virtual Meeting: Ask youth to gather items from around their kitchen/desk areas and build bridges of varying length, using whatever items they can find. Tell them to start building a bridge of six inches and see if anyone can build a bridge up to twenty-four inches in length.

Icebreaker Debrief:

  • Why are bridges usually built? Where have you learned about bridges before?
  • What did our ancestors do before bridges could be built or engineered?
  • Has anyone ever been afraid to cross a bridge? Do you want to share?

2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)

Our scripture reading today comes from Luke 16:19-31. Please read from two different Bible versions to help students understand the passage better.

3. Discussion (15 minutes)

  • What is the name of the poor man? Why do you think that Jesus gives the poor man a name but does not name the rich man? (To guide this question, offer thoughts like, “What might this mean for how we could relate to others better? Knowing someone’s name communicates respect, shows them that we recognize their worth as a person, and recognize their dignity.”
  • Compare the life of the rich man and the poor man while on earth. Do we still see differences like this in people’s lives in today’s world?
  • How do their positions get flipped after death? Does this seem fair?
  • What is verse 26 about anyway? What do you think the chasm is? How is the chasm created that separates the rich man from the poor man and Father Abraham?
  • What are the rich man/s requests to Father Abraham? Do you think the rich man’s requests to Father Abraham are reasonable? How about Abraham’s answers: are they reasonable?
  • Is this the first time you are hearing this parable? It is not one of the more often talked-about ones. Are there parts of this parable that are difficult for us to understand? What do you think we can learn from this story? There seem to be lessons around stewardship, sharing good news, and also the uniqueness of Jesus. Are there other times that we have talked about stewardship, evangelism, and how special Jesus is? How might those other conversations shed light on this parable?

4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)

The rich man does not learn his lesson until he is dead; and in death, there is nothing he can do to inform or help his living family act any differently. Let’s talk about what we can do with the lesson learned in this parable.

  • Let’s make a list of ways our church has built (or is building) bridges with and for the financially poor. (Be sure to write these where everyone can see—on newsprint or on a board in the room.) Does our church include people who have financial stability and those who do not? Do we have ministry for those within and outside our church who are struggling financially?
  • Can you think of ways we can expand our ministry, keeping in mind that ministry is not just giving money, but also building relationships with people in need? Out of the things we listed, which ones do you know the most about and which ones would you like to learn more about? Which of the things our church does to support the poor seem like they have potential to make the biggest difference?
  • What could we do as a youth group to be “bridge builders” in our community?
  • Are young people affected by poverty in different ways than adults are? How so? How might we as a group support what our church is doing related to poverty so that we can positively impact all ages?

Close in prayer, lifting up the ideas. Continue to help students stay engaged in these ministry opportunities.


In This Series...

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes