And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Thirty-four years ago Prince Charles gave Princess Diana a beautiful engagement ring. A 12-karat sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds. Continue reading Favored – Luke 2:1-20
This was the most powerful group I have led up to this point. It was a Spirit filled, Holy night.
I do not think I will ever be able to explain the power of this video! The large group gathering was contemplative and quiet. As the leader, I was very intentional about using few words, I did not want to fill the space with too much chatter. It was powerful for both youth and adults alike! Below is an outline of the evening, what and how I taught, and the small group/TAG time questions.
This is my take on it…but the creativity and artistry of the video demands conversation…so I wonder, what would you do? How would you frame a class around this video? Adult? Student? Multi-generational group? Drop me a comment below! Thanks! Tiffany
Title: The Blame Game
Theme: Blame and Condemnation
Audience: Middle School – High School, youth and adult leaders
“We all struggle with issues of blame and condemnation. They are the weapons we often use to hurt others in our culture. We are going to watch a short video. After the video you have two choices; you can either grab a blank piece of paper and draw or write whatever you want. Or you can take one of the papers that have questions for TAG time (TAG = Time Alone with God).”
(On the floor in the middle of the room I had crayons, markers, blank sheets of paper, and a stack of printouts of the nights questions.)
Biblical Text – Good Samaritan Story – Luke 10:25-37
One of our youth read the story to the group.
“I realized something as I watched this video and read the story of the Good Samaritan again…I realized the power in this story is that it is a story about all of us. I would like to say I am the Good Samaritan, but that’s not always me. Sometimes I am the innkeeper, willing to help people who are helping others. Sometimes, I am the priest and the Levite, judgmental, hypocritical…too good to stop and help when I see someone in need. And I hate to say it, but sometimes I am the robber…the one causing pain in others. And sometimes I am the one being beaten up by life, the one in need of help. And yes, sometimes I am the Good Samaritan, the one that sees the pain and is willing to step in and sacrifice my own time, money, and reputation to help. Jesus calls us to be Good Samaritans, to be the ones not only willing to help, but willing to sacrifice to help.”
Prayer/Blessing and sending to small groups
Leaders Meeting (30 Minutes)
I began by explaining the theme and flow of the night. (We did not watch the video in the leaders meeting. We could have but I am not sure how it would have changed the “feel” of the rest of the night.)
Youth leader read the text: Good Samaritan Story – Luke 10:25-37
I explained my understanding of the text (basically I taught the “teaching” from above.)
After a short example of how our youth group has been the “Inn Keeper” I asked for further examples of how we are the characters in the story of the Good Samaritan (<— This led to some great conversation!)
Other business and calendar stuff
These are the questions used for TAG time and small group discussion. Most of them were adaptations from chapter 4 Blame and Condemnation, from the book The Search for Significance: Student Edition by Robert McGee. (The Blame Game – TAG Time Questions PDF File)
“Every day, students and teacher alike enter their schools packing a concealed deadly weapon…that weapon is our ability to send a message of condemnation or blame to another person using words, physical force, facial expressions or silence….and we are as likely to be hit as pull the trigger” (The Search for Significance Student Edition, Robert S. McGee, pages 71-72).
As we watch the video, To This Day think about these questions and then take some Time Alone with God (TAG Time).
– What mistakes have you made in the past that your parents, friends, or others keep bringing up to make you feel bad? How do you react? Do you laugh it off? Get angry? Feel rejected? Blame yourself?
– Remember a situation where you have heard someone being ridiculed or verbally abused. What could you have done to help? What did you do? What will you do next time?
– Remember a situation, whether at school or at home, where you were the one doing the blaming and condemning. What did you do? What could you have done differently? How did you feel later?
– There are many characters in the video. Which one is most like you? What does the character do, say, or feel that you identify with?
– Christ spends much of his ministry loving people that are unlovable; he loves the tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners. He asks us to love the unlovable too. Who are the people in your live that are hard to love? What are ways you can show them love? What would you have to sacrifice to show them love in this way?
Sometimes I look through the lectionary text and wonder if the passages someone choose the passages randomly…”we haven’t had this one for a while, lets add it!” They just don’t seem to have anything in common. I have to admit, I miss things (all the time) and maybe I rarely read the lectionary text this close or maybe they don’t have much in common with the other texts for the week. Nevertheless, this week there are themes in the four texts…
I choose you…
God takes David “from the pasture, from following the sheep” (2 Samuel 7:8), Mary is “the lowliness of his servant” (Luke 1:48). If we were to look for these people today, we would not find them in the White House or in the boardroom. We might find David working hard on the family farm. Not the father that runs the farm, not the mother that makes sure the family runs smooth, but the child working and playing along his siblings, working so that there would be food on the table.
Have you seen Mary lately? She is the child from the “wrong side of the tracks,” the small town that everyone forgot about. Do you drive by cheap, run down motels on your way to work? Do you think maybe there is a young unwed mother that has gone through hell? Maybe Mary knew she was carrying a very special baby but to others she was unwed and pregnant. I wonder what her parents thought. Did they make her leave the only home she had ever known because of how she disgraced her family?
Today we know that how important David and Mary are in the history of the world. It makes it hard to return to the time and place of the story and remember that the people around them saw them the same way that we see outsiders, not good enough, not loved or the wrong kind of people. But God choose Mary, God choose David.
“Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me” (2 Samuel 7.16). “According to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1.55). “I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations” (Psalm 89.4). “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:33).
These texts are very clear on one thing “forever.” From generation to generation, we have a King, a Son of God that “to whom be the glory forever!” (Romans 16:27). These texts also lack one thing…”if.” Jesus will not reign “if” I have the right belief system, the right way of thinking, the right way of doing, there is no “if” even if I don’t know what the Kingdom of God looks like. There is no “if”…Jesus is King whether I know it, believe it or walk it…forever, from generation to generation, there is no end to his Kingdom. No “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” about it.
It is Advent; Christmas is coming (in December EVERY YEAR!). A joyous time for all. Right? Not so fast, most of us need strength to face the difficulties of this season. These texts offer that promise…”I will give you rest from all of your enemies” (2 Samuel 7:11). “He has shown strength with his arm” (Luke 1:15). “My hand shall always remain with him; my arm also shall strengthen him” (Psalms 89.21). “Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ” (Romans 16:25). “The power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35).
I may not know much…but I know that Mary and David needed strength. How do you tell your father that you are leaving the family farm to become the king? How do you go to your parents and tell them that you are pregnant? To have a messenger from God tell you that you are pregnant is one thing, to relay that information to your future spouse and parents is another. To allow others into the pain and fear that we face is facing down the gates of hell and choosing to walk through them. Hoping that what is on the other side is more like heaven. A place that we are not alone with our fear and pain anymore, a place that we know we are worthy of love, even with the mistakes of our past and failures of our present. We face many of the most difficult and tragic times in our lives feeling alone. To walk through those gates to find that we are worthy of love and no longer alone, this takes the strength of God to do.
The worst pain in the world is the pain suffered alone. Do not be alone: share.
I’ve been sitting around for a couple of years waiting for some amazing blog idea to hit me. One that makes it very easy to blog, with very little effort or thought put into it. Ya, I live on a different planet sometimes. I’m trying to convince myself that the only way to begin a blog is to well…start blogging. So, here we go, journeying through the beginning steps, the failures, the successes, and one day…my first reader. (If, of course I ever actually make this thing public!)
I don’t have anything to write about but one day I will…one day, I will sit down with the Bible, look at the lectionary text, pick a passage for the week…pray, listen, learn, and eventually write that amazing sermon, one day I will do all of those things.
Well, I am not big on “one day, when all the stars line up and I have arrived.” So, today I start. I will look at the text, study it, and then blog about it. That simple. I’m not going to preach…yet. Just write about what I find. It will be interesting to look back one day to see where this journey takes me.