Note to the Teacher
The key word for this lesson is “water.” Water is a basic human need. We recognize that God knows us and knows our stories and our needs. One icebreaker invites students to have a fun debate about the qualities of water. Another icebreaker gets students moving like the wind as they discuss the similar movement of those born of the Spirit. The discussion encourages students to think about the needs of the Israelites and the needs of the woman at the well as they acknowledge both their pasts and their current needs. The activity gets youth to tell their stories through comparing or contrasting their personal timelines through significant events. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Icebreaker: 'Is Water Wet?' and 'Desert Island' (10 minutes)
Get your students to discuss the qualities of water in high-tech icebreaker option 1, or have students share what top three items they would want with them if they were on a deserted island in the low-tech option 2.
Option 1: High Tech
Click the following link to watch this video, then have students agree or disagree about whether or not water is wet. Take a vote after five minutes of debate, then let students know that both stories in our scripture readings have to do with water: Why Water Is NOT Wet - With PROOF.
Option 2: Desert Island
Get students talking about basic needs (like water) by having them answer this question: “If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you want to have with you? Would you want to be alone or have someone with you?”
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our readings today lead us into the desert with Moses and the quarreling Israelites, then to a well where a woman finds living water when she meets Jesus.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
These stories both involve water—a basic human need. In both stories, very honest questions are being asked.
- What are our basic human needs?
- What other needs do we have? (Hint: Google Maslow’s hierarchy of needs)
- Do people’s needs shift and change based on the culture (time, place, etc.) where they live? Why do you think that is?
- Do you think that God/Jesus is ignoring basic human needs in these stories? Why or why not?
- What history of theirs did the Israelites talk about in the Exodus reading?
- What personal history about the woman in John 4 was shared?
- Do you think God cares about our past experiences?
- How does God or Jesus show care for the past of the Israelites and the past of the woman at the well in these stories?
The woman at the well told everyone about Jesus, saying, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” When someone knows all about you and understands you, does that make what that person says more helpful to you?
Read Psalm 95.
- Find the matching proper nouns from the Exodus reading in this Psalm. How do you think the psalmist knows about what happened in Exodus?
- What topics in history are most interesting to you? Where did you learn about those histories?
- What types of things do people learn from studying history? Do you think historical knowledge is important?
- Are there any things that you have learned from your family’s history or from your own personal history in life so far that are important to remember?
- What do you know about our church’s history? Do you think that history affects how we “do church” today?
- What things in your past experiences are you grateful to God for and why would it be helpful to remember the things you’re grateful for?
So far, we’ve discussed how admitting when we are wrong or forgiving someone else of a wrong is an important part of faith. We have talked about how movement and change are part of following God’s call. Today, we discuss how being known can help us to feel whole and acknowledging our history can be healing and meaningful.
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
Take this lesson to the next level by creating “my life” timelines. Give students plenty of notecard-sized scraps of paper or just notecards and pens. Have them write down significant life events with the estimated year the event happened. (For example: “I am born,” with the year they were born written above the event. They need to write each event in their life with the year it happened on separate cards.
After all students have finished writing their personal timelines, have them line up their timelines to see what was happening in one another’s’ lives throughout their various timelines. See if anyone had significant events happen in the same year.
Discuss the reality that everyone is going through different things at different times and that it’s important to be mindful of that so that we understand that our story isn’t the only story that matters. Sometimes someone is going through something significant or even difficult when our timelines cross, so we can try to be kind and caring to everyone. We never know what’s going on in people’s lives all the time.
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, “Why Water Is Not Wet,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugyqOSUlR2A (high-tech icebreaker option)
Computer with screen and audio
- Paper or notecards and markers, pens, colored pencils, or pencils. (activity and discussion)