Jesus gathers us as citizens with the saints to learn to love like Jesus through practicing discipleship that works for peace through justice.Purpose
To provide an introduction to the theme and structure of the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering: "citizens with the saints."Supplies Needed
Poly-dots, laminated placemats or chairs (have one less than number of group members), notepad, pencil, table, small bowl, candle, Bible, free-standing cross on which you can stick things, water, blank mailing labels, sharpies
You'll need a poly-dot, laminated placemat or chair for all but one person in your group. These will be markers for where people will stand or sit during the game. Arrange your objects of choice in a circle.
Have everyone stand on an object or sit on a chair. The one person who does not have a seat or a placemat will need to stand in the center of the circle. The person in the center will start the game by saying a sentence about something he or she has done. For example, the person might say, "I've gone waterskiing."
Everyone in the circle who has gone waterskiing must immediately move to another spot in the circle. The only spaces participants cannot move to are the space they have just been standing or sitting in and the spaces to their immediate right and left. Whoever is left out is in the center for the next round.
Play this game until everyone gets a chance to be in the middle. Ask the group to sit down in their circle and add a spot for the person in the middle.Debrief with the following questions
Who got left out of the game when we started switching places?
Was it easy to see who was left out while you were busy moving?
Is it easy to see who is getting left out in real life while we are busy doing things?
How do the things that make us different create dividing walls between those who are included and those who are left out?
Passing the Peace
In this curriculum, passing the peace serves two purposes. First, it centers the group in the current activity. Second, it allows the group to recover from any frustration generated by the Invite activities. Try to make this a meaningful act by giving it time to unfold.
Encourage and Prayer
Invite the group members to pass the peace with these words:Leader (L): The Lord be with you!
Group (G): And also with you.
Leader (L): Share the peace of Christ with one another
After everyone has had a chance to pass the peace, gather everyone back in the circle for highs and lows. The leader needs to make sure that someone is taking notes on any prayer requests or celebrations.
Invite your group to join you in prayer.
L: We thank you, Lord, for your gift of a faith community that lifts us up in prayer before you, and helps us celebrate the blessings of our life in Christ. Hear the joys and concerns we offer you now.
(Pray from the list of petitions you wrote down.) We thank you for promising to hear us when we cry out to you in Jesus' name. Amen.
Place a table in the center of the room. On that table, place a small bowl, a candle, a Bible and a cross. The candle should be next to the Bible.
L: Please gather around the table.
(When everyone is in place, continue.) I welcome you in the name of Jesus Christ.
(Light the candle.) We gather around the word of God that lights our way.
(Add water to the bowl.) In the water of baptism, Jesus makes us all one people.
(Lift the cross as you say the next sentence.) Jesus makes people from different nations, different cultures and different ways of life into citizens and saints through his death on the cross.
You may sing a song here. "Sanctuary" or "Jesus, Remember Me" would be appropriate.
Another leader reads Ephesians 2:14 – 20, while you gather a package of blank mailing labels and Sharpie markers.
When the reading is complete, pass out the mailing labels to participants (one per person). Say: Please take a moment to write your name on your sticker.
When everyone is done, ask them to put their sticker on the cross, while you say: When people are baptized, the pastor reminds them that God has claimed them and them as God's forever. No matter what, baptism sticks on us, keeps us stuck to God, and keeps all children of God stuck together.
Ask participants to return to their circle around the table.
L: We help each other remember how Jesus loves us and gives us the grace to love others.
Pick up the bowl and hold it in front of a participant in the circle. As the bowl is held in front of you, dip your finger in the water and trace the cross on the forehead of the person on your left.
When everyone has had the cross traced on their heads, return the bowl to the table.
L: Let us pray. God of the water and the word, we thank you for the grace you give us in baptism. We thank you that we have brothers and sisters in Christ to help us remember your love for us. Open our hearts now as we listen for your message to us in today's Bible study. In our Lord Jesus' holy name. Amen.
Bible StudyL: We've already heard our passage for today, Ephesians 2:14 – 20, in worship. Let's hear it again in another translation.
(We suggest "The
Message" or the New International Version.) This text is the theme scripture for the Gathering. Let's read the Gathering paraphrase of Ephesians 2:14 – 20: "
Jesus is our peace. In his life and death on the cross, Jesus broke down the dividing walls so that we are no longer strangers and outsiders, but we are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God. The foundation of God's house was built of apostles and prophets, and Jesus, the cornerstone, holds it all together."Use these questions to reflect on this passage
- What is the general message of this passage? Which version was the clearest to you? Why?
- The groups that are mentioned in this passage are referring to the Jews and the Gentiles living in Paul's time. The Jews and the Gentiles had a disagreement about who could be "in" with God. The Jews belonged to the people of Israel. These were God's chosen people who God brought out of slavery in the Exodus. The Gentiles were people who weren't Jews. In other words, the Gentiles were everybody else. The Jewish Christians tended to believe that Gentile Christians also needed to become Jews to become insiders in the kingdom of God. The Gentiles disagreed. What insider/outsider groups do you see in your congregation, school and community?
- What does it mean to be a citizen? (Dictionary.com defines "citizen" as a person who is born into or allowed to become a member of a state or nation who owes allegiance to its government and is entitled to its protection. Citizens are also insiders and can decide who else can become insiders.)
- For a moment, let's not think of citizens in terms of where people live. Let's think of places where certain people belong and other people don't belong. Imagine a rock concert. At an arena concert, you have three different types of places. You have onstage, backstage, and the "house" area where the audience is. Let's assume that this is a concert where you need to have a ticket. Can a ticket holder get in the house area? Yes, their ticket is proof that the audience member can watch the show. Can the concert staff get into the house area? Yes, they have identification to prove they can be anywhere in the arena. Can the band get into the house area? Yes, it's their concert. Let's think about backstage. Can the band be backstage? Yes, they need to prepare for the show. Can the concert staff be backstage? Yes, if their job requires them to be backstage. A ticket-taker probably would not be backstage, but someone who sets up sound equipment might. Can the audience be backstage? Not usually. A few audience members might have backstage passes, but even those have limited access. Let's think about being onstage. Can the band be onstage? Yes. Can the concert staff be onstage? Not usually. One or two people might need to be onstage to move speakers or instruments, but that's it. Can the audience be onstage? No. There are guards that keep audience members away from the stage.
- Let's think about the kingdom of God like a rock concert. Who did the Jews think had tickets to get into the kingdom of God? Who didn't the Jew think had tickets to get into the kingdom of God? Who did the Gentiles think had tickets?
- According to Paul in our Ephesians passage, who does Jesus say has tickets to the kingdom of God? (The catch here is that Jesus is the ticket to get into the kingdom of God. Because of Jesus, everyone gets a ticket to come in and is allowed backstage and onstage. Jesus is our all-access pass to the kingdom of God.)
- Paul writes that Jesus puts an end to the idea that tickets or passes or anything else separates us. Instead, Jesus changes us into citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. When people are baptized, they are marked with the cross of Christ and called child of God. Basically, this is where Jesus says to sin and the devil, "Back off. They're with me." What do you think that says about you that you belong with saints, the household of God, and children of God?
- Is belonging with the saints different from belonging to other groups? Why or why not?
- What comes along with being a citizen with the saints or belonging with the saints? What are you responsible for getting done in the world? What do you get from belonging?
- Here are some things our faith community thinks we need to do since we are citizens with the saints. We are to live among God's faithful people. We are to hear the word of God and share in the Lord's Supper. We are to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth. Is that similar to what you thought you were responsible for in life?
- Reread the passage one more time. Do you hear it any differently now than you did when we got started?
One of the things we are going to be doing in New Orleans is practicing justice. If you are practicing justice, what do you picture you would be doing? What about if you were doing a service project? What do you picture yourself doing if you were doing a service project? Were your images different between practicing justice and doing a service project? Why or why not?
Practicing justice is about making sure that everyone has an opportunity to become the people God made them to be. Sometimes that means we help build houses and sometimes that means we have to tear houses down. However, practicing justice always begins with giving someone our attention. When we give someone our attention, we say to that person that her story is worth our time and we value her.
Today we are going to experience what it feels like to receive someone's active attention.
Divide the group into pairs. Have each pair play Rock, Paper, Scissors. The winner gets to be the listener first. Assure everyone that the pairs will get to switch parts.
This video (http://tinyurl.com/6o23nbf) from Preservation Hall shares pieces of the New Orleans jazz culture.
Questions for reflection:
1. Why do these stories need to be told?
2. Why might it be important for those storytellers that you heard their story?
You are going to have a conversation with your partner today. Talkers, you are going to share your favorite book or movie with your listener. Talk about why you love it. Listeners, every 45 seconds, I will be giving you new instructions about how you will be participating in the conversation. One general rule for everyone: please keep your voices down. This will help you hear each other.
OK, listeners. You will now just listen like you normally would for 45 seconds. Go.
(After 45 seconds, stop the pairs.)
Now, listeners, you will not talk. Your body language should reflect that you are not listening or that you don't care. Go.
(After 45 seconds, stop the pairs.)
Now, listeners, you still can't talk, but now you sincerely care about what the talker is saying. Go.
(After 45 seconds, stop the pairs.)
Now, listeners, you can talk. However, you may only ask questions that have one word answers like yes or no. These are called closed questions, because they close off the conversation. You may not change the subject. You are still genuinely interested. Go.
(After 45 seconds, stop the pairs.)
Now, listeners, you can ask questions that can elicit thoughtful answers. These are called open questions, because they open the conversation up to new possibilities. You are still genuinely interested. Go.
(After 45 seconds, stop the pairs.)
Switch roles. You have 45 seconds to just be yourself and get the conversation going.
(After 45 seconds, stop the pairs. Repeat the same steps you did with the pairs the last time. Once you have gone through everything again, have everyone rejoin the large group.)
Let's talk about what just happened.
As the talker, which version of the listener was the easiest to tell your story to?
What did it feel like to talk to someone who didn't care?
What did it feel like to talk to someone who did care?
As listeners, what was the hardest thing for you to do in the exercise?
Why might giving someone your attention be the first thing to do when seeking justice for him?
Here's our answer to the question of why justice begins with giving an individual our active attention. We say we go on mission trips when we go out to serve. We are a part of God's mission when we love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) ELCA Global Mission looks at participating in God's mission through the lens of "accompaniment." They define accompaniment as "Walking together in solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality." This means that we don't treat our neighbors like broken toys that cannot fix themselves. Instead, we treat our neighbors as brothers and sisters who work with us so we can all live as the people God created us to be. We ask our neighbors how we can make them stronger, and actively listen to their answers. Then we work together with our neighbors to do what they ask of us in the way they want us to help them. We also ask them to help us with our burdens.
Consider framing all your preparatory mission trips and service opportunities with the following questions:
As you prepare to leave the session, have participants pair up. Have them repeat the following statement from the baptismal liturgy found in "Evangelical Lutheran Worship" as they trace a cross on their partner's head.