Note to the Teacher
The key quote for this lesson is from Lao Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We recognize the Lenten season as a microcosm of the Christian journey through life. One icebreaker invites students to watch a video and answer questions; the other icebreaker invites youth to take a slow journey as they inch their way forward as statues, attempting to move only while the curator’s back is turned. The discussion encourages students to think about the stories of the temptation of Adam and Eve and the temptation of Jesus and to consider how not hiding when we feel as if we’ve done something wrong and forgiveness are important parts of our individual and communal faith journeys. The activity allows youth to practice trusting and experience the value of communication when working together and dealing with temptation or fear. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: 'Time Travel' or 'Statues' (10 minutes)
Get students laughing and thinking with some standup comedy and discussion about time travel (since we’re talking about journeys today) or get students to feel what it’s like to take a slow journey as they inch their way forward in a game of “Statues”!
Option 1: High-Tech
Click the link to watch this video and answer the questions that follow. “Nate Bargatze: Full Time Magic – Time Travel.”
If you could travel back in time or into the future, where would you go and why? Would you be able to change anything if you could travel into the past or future? If so, what would you choose to change?
Option 2: Statues
One student starts out as the "curator" and stands at one end of an open space.
Everyone else playing stands at the other end (distance depends upon playing area selected). The object of the game is for a "statue" to tag the curator, thereby becoming the curator and resetting the game.
The curator turns his/her back to everyone playing, and the "statues" or other players attempt to race across the space or room and tag the curator.
Whenever the curator turns around, the statues must freeze in position and hold that position for as long as the curator looks at them. The curator may even be allowed to walk around the statues, examining them. However, the curator needs to be careful – whenever the curator's back is turned, statues are allowed to move.
If a statue is caught moving, that person is sent back to the starting line to begin again.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture readings today cover temptation. First, we read about the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; then, we read the story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
These two stories deal with temptations to ignore God’s commands or instructions.
- What are the commands of God mentioned in the Genesis story of Adam and Eve? Do they seem reasonable or not? What are the commands of God in the story of Jesus’ temptation? Again, are those reasonable commands or not? Why?
- Are there any similarities between the temptation of Adam and Eve and the temptation of Jesus? What’s different in the stories? (We’re asking this because many of those who first heard about Jesus’ temptation would have been familiar with the story from Genesis.) Does knowing the Genesis story help you think differently about the Matthew story?
- Which character in the Genesis story do you relate to the most? Which part of Jesus’ temptation do you relate the most to?
Read Psalm 32.
- How does the creator of Psalm 32 describe his relationship to God?
- How does acknowledging sin and not hiding help this person?
- How does your church define or discuss sin? Is it something that gets avoided? Why or why not?
- Have you ever admitted to something and been forgiven? Describe that.
- How long do you think forgiveness takes? Do you think it takes the same amount of time for everyone?
- Does the act of forgiveness always look the same for everyone in all circumstances? Do you think it feels the same for everyone all the time?
(Please remind students, especially if they bring up situations of hurt that are unsafe or abusive, that forgiveness may not mean that a relationship stays the same or that we stay connected to people we forgive or to people that forgive us, especially in situations where our safety or the safety of others is at risk. Consequences don’t always go away just because we receive or offer forgiveness. Just like there were consequences for Adam and Eve, so there are consequences to our actions, even when we receive forgiveness. You may offer up the question, “Is it better to forgive and forget, or to forgive and remember?” “Which do you think God does?”)
Last week, we discussed how individual and communal works of piety and mercy can be connected. Our individual spiritual practices affect the people and the world around us. How can admitting when we’re wrong and/or asking for forgiveness affect the people around us and the world?
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
Take this lesson to the next level with a wave of trust. You need one volunteer per turn. Have everyone else stand in two rows facing one another with their arms outstretched and interlaced like a zipper. Then, the person who volunteers is to face the group from a distance, lined up with the group’s hands in front of them. The volunteer says, “wave ready”? The group responds, “wave ready”! The volunteer says, “walking,” but doesn’t move forward until the group responds, “walk on!” The volunteer runs or walks quickly forward between the two rows toward the group’s arms, trusting that the group will drop or lift their arms so that the volunteer does not run into the group’s interlaced arms.
You can try this faster each time as trust grows. Have others take a few turns. Increase the excitement by having volunteers close their eyes. When everyone has tried (don’t force a student to do a trust activity), discuss the topics below.
Discuss how it felt to run through the group and why it can be hard to trust in this situation and/or in general.
Discuss why it was important for the volunteer to communicate with the group and vice versa.
Do you think Jesus ever felt nervous as he trusted God in his journey? How did Jesus communicate with God along his journey?
What kind of words did Jesus use when he communicated with God?
Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys/concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.
Total time: 50 minutes
- YouTube video of Nate Bergatze’s time travel joke (high-tech icebreaker option)
- Computer with screen and audio
- Open space for “Statues” and for the “Trust Wave” (low-tech icebreaker and activity for discussion)