Dancing in the Dark

In Awe of Grace

Good Friday, Year A

How do you preach on this day? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you simply tell the story. Read the Passion story, extinguish the candles one by one, and leave the sanctuary in darkness.

Note to the Teacher

The keywords in this lesson are “love,” “suffering,” and “human.” One icebreaker invites youth to dance in their seats to a song about love, following the video on the screen. Another icebreaker invites students to think of as many places around the world as they can, since the story of Jesus is celebrated in many different places. The discussion invites students to examine the writings that surround Jesus’ suffering and to think about why it matters that our faith is associated with Jesus’ pain and suffering as a human. The activity allows youth to think about seeing themselves and others through a lens of steadfast or unconditional love like the love God has for us. Students will grow in awe of the grace of God’s presence and steadfast love as they continue through the stories of Easter in the next few weeks. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.

1. Icebreaker (5 minutes):

“What Is Love?” or “Around the World”

If your group likes to move and clap, choose the high-tech option 1. If students are more of a seated group, choose the low-tech option 2. Either way, have some fun!

Option 1: High-Tech: “What Is Love?”

This lesson is about Jesus’ love for all people being his main priority, even more than his own comfort and his own life. So, what is love? This dance video (Just Dance 2017 - What Is Love (Car Version)) asks that same exact question. You can stay seated as you follow along with this dance. If some don’t want to dance, they can encourage others by clapping or stomping along to the rhythm. Join in yourself to encourage students.

Make sure that you let everyone know they did a great job after the dance is over. Note that it is brave to dance in front of others, and it is also great to clap along, offering additional rhythm for the dance!! Way to go, everyone! To transition, ask the group to answer the question “What is love?” from the video.

Option 2: Low Tech: “Around the World”

Holy Week and Easter are observed in many different ways around the world. So, let’s think of as many places around the world that we can, even places that might not observe Easter. Here’s how the game is played: The leader begins by saying the name of any country, city, river, ocean, or mountain that can be found in an atlas. The young person next to to the leader must then say another name that begins with the last letter of the word just given. Each person has a definite time limit (e.g., three seconds) and no names can be repeated. For example - First person: London, Second Person: Niagara Falls, Third Person: Switzerland, etc.)

2. Read Scripture (10 minutes):

Hebrews 10:16-25; John 18:1-19:42

In our scripture reading today, Jesus, the great healer, teacher, child, brother, and friend goes through great pain and suffering because of his great love for all people. While you read, focus on the following: (1) What is said to Jesus? (2) What is done to Jesus? (3) How does Jesus respond? The selection from John is a lengthy piece, so pay attention to time. In the next section, there are also options to read from Isaiah and John. You as the leader may want to preview these scriptures and select which scriptures and questions to read, for the sake of time.

3. Discussion (15 minutes)

  • What is said and done to Jesus by others in John 18 and 19?
  • How does Jesus respond to what is said and done to him in John 18 and 19?
  • Is a high priest (or great priest) [verse 21] something that Jesus would have been considered during his lifetime? Do you think it is a label that Jesus would welcome?
  • Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are…” Jesus suffered a great deal. How was the way that Jesus suffered in the passages from John different from how many of the high priests at the time would have experienced life and death?
  • Why do you think Jesus’ suffering is a big part for some in the Christian faith? Explain. Why do you think it is a less important part of the story for others?
  • It can be difficult to talk about all the pain that Jesus went through. Why is that? Why is it difficult to talk about or witness pain and suffering?
  • How do you think people who go through great pain feel about Jesus going through the same things they do?

Both of these verses are associated with Jesus and his suffering. Pay attention to words and phrases that stand out to you. Read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and Psalm 22.

  • What point of view is Isaiah 52 written from? What about Psalm 22?
  • How do you think the person calling out to God in Psalm 22 feels?
  • Can you think of current situations where people might call out to God in the midst of suffering?
  • Jesus repeats a phrase from Psalm 22:1 when he is dying after being crucified on the cross. (Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46) Knowing that Jesus is Jewish and familiar with the Psalms and other Old Testament scriptures, how do you think the people witnessing the crucifixion understood that phrase?
  • Do you think Jesus felt like God, his Father, had abandoned or “forsaken” him? Or do you think that Jesus was simply quoting earlier scripture?
  • Based on all the readings today, do you think Jesus thought of others, even as he was suffering?

We will continue toward Resurrection through following the life and death of Jesus. What do you think the Spirit of God is speaking into your life and heart as you hear about Jesus’ actions and encounters during his suffering at the end of his life on earth?

4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)

Take this lesson to the next level through kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquered gold, creating beautiful cracks in bowls, cups or vases from brokenness. Optional: Watch this video about this artform and philosophy: “Kintsugi: Broken is Beautiful.”

Say: We will practice a simpler version of kintsugi by breaking apart old magazines or unwanted and unused paper and putting them back together again with glue on another page to make something beautiful and new. When Jesus was crucified on the cross, his love wasn’t broken down, but his love, broken open, created something new in the world. Think about that as you create something awesome out of broken pieces of paper. If you want to make it even more creative, you can get several golden markers/paint pens to allow students to highlight the torn edges. See examples below.

Discuss this activity together:

  • What do you think about the practice and philosophy of kintsugi? Have you heard of it before today?
  • How is Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection like brokenness and repair in kintsugi?
  • Do you like thinking of brokenness as having potential or future beauty? Explain.
  • Can this idea apply to brokenness in our lives and in the world around us? How?
  • How do you feel about the thought of Jesus’ love not breaking down, but breaking open, spreading more beauty and love in the world?
  • Can brokenness in our lives lead to beauty and strength in the world? Explain.

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.

Total time: 50 minutes


In This Series...

Palm/Passion Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Maundy Thursday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Good Friday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Holy Saturday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Easter Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes


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In This Series...

Palm/Passion Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Maundy Thursday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Good Friday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Holy Saturday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Easter Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes