Thursday, December 16, 2010

Walk of the Magi Youth Group

Last night at youth group, our mid and senior high students met to do a lesson called "The Walk of the Magi." My goal in putting together this lesson was to help the youth prepare for the coming of the Christ child at Christmas and to help them understand more about Advent and the nativity.

Originally I had a good plan where they were going to "be the magi." But on Monday I received an email that convicted me to change my plans somewhat. See my post here for the details of that email! In the end, I took 6 of the characters of the nativity and the youth traveled through "stations" focusing on that person and a topic that went with it! I got lots of my ideas from this site and LOVE their work.

Here's a run down of what we did:

Station 1: The Wonder of Mary
One of my 10th grade students, Jordan Sommer, drew an outline of an icon of Mary.
At this station, students first learned what an icon is and then filled in the blanks of the drawing by cutting out Christmas ads (thanks to all the church members who brought these in). Using the Christmas ads helped the youth to consider the commercialism of Christmas that is so prevalent in our world today versus the true meaning of Christmas.

We didn't finish the project but Jordan did take it home to do some more work on it. When it is finished, we will display it in the Narthex and it should look something like this:

Station # 2: The Obedience of Joseph

This staiton was an Advent prayer wall! Students read from Matthew of three examples where Joseph was obedient after angels appeared in his dreams. Often times that obedience meant waiting or that things would turn out differently than Joseph had planned. In Advent we wait for the birth of the Christ child; but sometimes it is hard to be obedient and wait.

There were two large pieces of newsprint on the wall that posed the questions: What are you waiting for this Advent season and what do you think God is waiting for? Youth were encouraged to write their anwers to these questions on sticky notes and post them on the wall.

Station # 3: The Joy of the Angels
At station 3, the youth considered the angels and read their announcement of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-10. The youth were challenged with the following statements:

Why were the angels so joyful? We can imagine the nearly uncontrollable excitement in the voice of the angel that spoke to the shepherds. And we can imagine the shiver of wonder that must have filled the shepherds as they heard the resounding sound of the angelic multitudes praising God. But, what was the source of the angels’ joy? What did the birth of the Lord on earth mean to them?
The angels knew that the Lord’s birth was only the beginning. Jesus would grow from infancy to adult life. He would undergo continual battles and would eventually die on the cross. The completion of His work would come as He rose from the tomb on the first Easter. He became the light of the world; a light to our darkness.
God is calling us to be joyous as the angels and to be the light of the world today.

The youth were then given Christmas light bulbs with wire tied to the end to make a hook to make an ornament. The youth were aked to paint or draw on the light bulb what it means to be the light of the world!

Station # 4: The Eagerness of the Shepherds

When considering the shepherds, the youth were given Bibles and a comfy place to sit to the story in Luke 2:8-14. After they read the story, I posed the questions:

What would it take, do you think, for us to have peace on earth? Where are the places that really need peace right now? What relationships are required? How might God be part of bringing that peace through us?

The students then sat silently and offered prayers for eagerness and peace (in the world, in their schools, in theirr relationships, in our church, in their homes). Once they were finished praying, there were pitchers filled with water and an empty bowl. They were encouraged to pour a small amount of the water from the pitcher into the bowl. This represented the way all of our prayers become one in the eagerness of God’s love.

Station # 5: The Determination of the Magi

The magi likely traveled over 1000 miles to bring gifts to Jesus. That takes some determination. Today, we give gifts as Christmas as a reminder of their gifts.

In this season of shopping madness and gift-getting and giving, I reminded the youth that we should really consider an understanding of "gifts" that goes beyond the material goods that will be awaiting us under our Christmas trees.
Several months ago, we did a study at youth group on Spiritual gifts and each of the youth were given the chance to take an inventory to discover their gifts!

I asked the youth to look around the room and see who was there and what their gifts were. Then, write the other people's "gifts" and "talents" down on strips of paper. They were encouraged to do this several times and then make a paper chain out of the strips of paper. The paper chain was placed on the Christmas tree at this staiton. Later this week, I will undo the chain and mail the anonymous remarks to the youth whom they are about.

Station # 6: The Peace of the Christ Child

At this final station, the youth found a handout on the table, were asked to find a space to sit, and read the account of Jesus’ birth from the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2: 1-20). There were also questions on the handout for the youth to consider:

When you picture the story of Jesus’ birth, how do you imagine it? If you were there as character in the story, what do you think you would see? What would you smell? What would you hear? What would it be like for Mary to give birth in that place? What do you suppose Joseph is thinking/doing? What is the baby feeling or doing?

There was Advent/Christmas music playing and there was a slideshow of nativity images being projected on the screen. The youth were asked to sit in silence and ponder the evening.

Here are a couple of pictures from the evening:

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