MEETING AIM: To explore why Jesus died, what happened when he did, and our response to that.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Mark 15:15-40
BACKGROUND: The story of Jesus crucifixion is a key one for our faith, so spend some time before the session reflecting on what this story, and its significance in the wider story of God’s plan for salvation, means to you. It might be that you could explore different models of what the cross means, eg atonement, victory or rescue. How will you communicate that to the young people in your group?
Welcome the young people and share out any refreshments you have brought. Chat together about what has happened this week. Rejoice in the young people’s triumphs and sympathise with their difficulties. Use this time to build relationships and settle into the session.
You will need: pieces of paper with a range of different jobs written on (one job per piece)
Give everyone a piece of paper with a job title on it. The jobs should be varied in terms of their ‘worthiness’, eg doctor or drug dealer. Ask them to think about why their role is needed in society. They should consider all the positive contributions they make.
Explain that you are all passengers in a hot air balloon. The balloon is losing altitude, and the only way to save the majority is to throw a third of you overboard! Everyone has 20 seconds to explain to the group why they should live. At the end of that time, the group takes a vote as to whether the person gets to live or die.
You will need: pens; paper; scissors; Bibles; a distinctive chair
Split into small groups and give out paper, pens and scissors. Ask the group to write down all the ‘sins’ they can think of. Now get them to cut up their pieces of paper so that each ‘sin’ is on its own piece. Can they order the ‘sins’ from most serious to least bad? After a few minutes, take some feedback, asking:
- How did you decide which sins were worst / least serious?
- Which sins do you think matter most to God, and why?
- Who do these sins cause a problem for? You? Others? God?
Give out Bibles and place your distinctive chair in the middle of the room. Ask someone to read Mark 15:15-40 and encourage those who know the Bible well to try to hear it in a fresh way. It may be a familiar story, yet it’s the most dramatic and important story in the Bible.
Brief some volunteers in advance to play the parts of key characters at the cross. One person should be the centurion, others could be disciples, the person who thinks he’s calling Elijah, or Simon from Cyrene. Invite them to sit in the ‘hot seat’. Anyone in the group can ask them any question they like; your volunteers must improvise an answer. Make sure everyone has access to their Bible – including the volunteers, and allow a certain amount of silly ques- tions. Focus the discussion on what they saw and how they felt at the cross. Before each one leaves, ask them a final question: what do you think was really going on at the cross?
Continue your exploration of the passage by discussing these questions:
- What do you think is the most important part of the story?
- What does this story tell you about God?
- What does this story tell you about people?
- How does the ‘sin ordering’ activity fit in with this story?
CREATIVE RESPONSE AND PRAYER
You will need: paper; art materials
Explain that you’re going to attempt the ancient Christian practice of solitude together. Once everyone is in a relaxed and comfortable position, read the Bible passage again. Ask everyone to think about what they’ve just heard. Pray, inviting God to help you all reflect on the story, then allow three minutes of silence.
Invite those who want to, to pick up a pen and start writing a letter or prayer to God in response. No one else will see it.
Read the passage again. After three minutes of silence, they can then begin to draw anything they like as an artistic response or prayer.
As you finish, encourage everyone to keep reflecting on the cross and what it means for us in the week ahead. You may want to end with a time for people to silently talk to God about their own sins, and if you’re running the series, make sure you encourage everyone with the news that next week, it all gets a lot better!
If you’re running all four sessions on Easter, choose a movie that illustrates the various episodes covered by the session plans. The clip should be the moment where the main heroic character is introduced. For example, you could choose The Lion King and watch the opening shot as Simba is held aloft; the scene where Princess Leia is under attack in Star Wars IV: A New Hope; the original Toy Story, when Woody comes to life or when Buzz arrives. Ask the group what they notice about how the main character is introduced. What do they learn about them? How does this introduction setup the story?
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