Note to the Teacher
The signs of the season are all around us, if we’re looking for them. Advent is a season of hopeful expectation, a yearning for the coming Emmanuel. This lesson invites participants to be alert and pay attention to what’s in front of them and to anticipate what might be coming next. The activities invoke active, playful participation, and the scriptures call us to pay attention to the signs of God’s presence all around.
Icebreaker (10 minutes)
BLINK & AWE
Setup: Sit in a circle with one person in the middle of the circle where that person can move around within the circle and be able to see everyone’s faces. Have the person in the middle close their eyes and choose a different person who will begin the game.
Play: Once the person in the middle opens their eyes, the person who is starting the game will choose another person in the circle and BLINK both eyes at them. The person the individual in the middle BLINKED at will then open his/her mouth in AWE. Then the person whose mouth is opened will close it, choose another person to BLINK at, and blink. That person will then open their mouth in AWE. The person in the middle tries to catch them in the act and guess who has the BLINK.
*If the person hasn’t opened his/her mouth in AWE, then the person who BLINKed is the one who has the BLINK.
Debrief: What did everyone have to do in this game? What skill was most important to have while playing this game? What distracts us from being alert and paying attention?
Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Isaiah 64:1-9; Mark 13:24-37
Discussion (10 minutes)
- What signs do the scriptures imagine will indicate God’s coming into the world?
- What signs does our culture use or display to let everyone know the Christmas season is here? Are any of them borrowed or modified from scripture?
- What feelings or thoughts do these signs evoke?
- How are the cultural signs for Christmas and the signs that scripture uses to indicate God’s coming into the world similar and different?
- What does the Mark passage say about paying attention?
- What signs of the Advent/Christmas season do you notice every day?
- What signs of God’s presence do you notice every day?
- Tell about a time when your experience of God was unexpected or caught you off guard.
- How might we be more mindful of God’s presence with us each day?
Activity and Discussion (25 minutes)
Option 1: Invite youth to brainstorm games that involve paying attention and being alert. Choose one to play together. You may choose to have the following games as options: Four Square (kickball) or Knockout (basketball); Connect Four, Chess, or Checkers.
Debrief: What skills do you have to use in playing these games? What did you have to do to be prepared? Have someone re-read Mark 13:33-37. How would you reword the passage to fit this game? What skills that you used in this game translate to paying attention for signs of God’s presence?
Option 2: Masking Tape Ball
Game Setup: For each person in your class, mark off a section of the floor with masking tape. Set it up to be similar to Four Square, but be flexible according to how many people are in your group. If you have more than eight people, make two game areas. If you can play outside, you may use sidewalk chalk.
Supplies Needed: Varying sized/weighted balls (ping pong ball; ball pit ball; bouncy ball; tennis ball; playground bounce ball; beach ball, balloon; and others.
Play: One person begins with one ball and hits the ball into another person’s space. The other person must allow the ball to bounce once and then hit the ball to another person’s space. Use varying size/weight balls to play; throw in two balls at a time. No one gets “out”; Instead, everyone rotates spots every time the ball goes out of bounds.
Tips: As the leader, pay attention to participants’ anxiety levels; if playing with two or more balls at a time is too much, play with one ball at a time. When a ball goes out of bounds, change the ball type.
Debrief: What was it like to play with several types of balls? How did it make you feel? What did you have to do to be prepared for the ball? Have someone re-read Mark 13:33-37. How would you reword the passage to fit this game? What skills that you used in this game translate to paying attention for signs of God’s presence?
Close with sharing joys/concerns and praying for one another.
Total Time: 55 minutes
- Games for option 1 activity; masking tape and various sized/weighted balls noted in the game instructions.