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Bible passage: Mark 2:13-17
Background: This session looks at Mark 2, where Jesus recruits Levi as one of his twelve disciples. He then goes on to share a meal with Levi and other “tax collectors and sinners”, which shocks and offends the religious authorities. This is an early insight into the kind of teacher and friend Jesus is.
Understanding the story in this passage relies on us having a bit of background information. Tax collectors were especially hated in their communities because they often took more than their fair share of tax to make themselves rich. The scribes and Pharisees were the people who specialised in knowing the Jewish laws. They were the religious authorities that encouraged the community to make sure they were living by the rules recorded in scripture.
Invite the group to come together. Serve refreshments if that’s what you usually do to welcome them. If you want to begin to talk about friendship you could ask them to discuss the ways their friends have influenced or shaped them.
You will need: plastic or paper cups; string; scissors; a table; small prizes
This is a team challenge, so all work together or divide the young people into teams. The challenge is to stack the cups into the highest possible tower in five minutes. The catch? They are not allowed to touch the cups; they can only touch the string! You could let the group work it out for themselves, but if they’re struggling you can offer a hint about them holding lengthsof string across the table, and picking up the cups using the string’s tension as a team.
At the end of the allotted time, give out prizes for the tallest tower, but also for the best teamwork.
You will need: Bibles; paper and pens Read the passage together. Split the young people into smaller groups and ask them to think of a way of retelling the story in their groups, but in a modern-day context. Who might the equivalent of the tax collectors and sinners be today? Or the Pharisees and scribes?
They could act it out, tell a story or write a poem…let their creative juices flow! Give them some time to prepare, then ask them to come back and share what they’ve come up with. It might be helpful to look out for groups that are struggling to come up with ideas or to work together. It’s always better to keep things simple if this is the case!
Use this time to unpack the passage a bit more, asking the group to discuss the following questions:
- Why does it surprise us that Jesus chose these people?
- What does Jesus’ decision to eat with Levi and the ‘sinners’ say about who Jesus is?
- Why do you think it offended the religious leaders so much?
- If you were assembling a team of disciples, who would you chose? How does following Jesus’ example change who you might choose?
- How is the way Jesus saw the ‘tax collectors and sinners’ different from the way everybody else saw them? How do you think he saw them, and why did he see them differently from most people?
- Who do you think Jesus would choose to eat with today?
- How does Jesus teach us how to live?
You will need: blank cards and envelopes; felt-tip pens (or other card craft materials); recipe books
Ask the group to plan a meal they could invite people to. Jesus invited people to eat with him and said that he came for the sick, not the well. Jesus wants us to meet those who have needs.
Ask the group to think about who from their community they could invite to join them for a meal. You could think about local organisations that cook for homeless people and see if the group could help by baking for them. Or perhaps there are pastoral concerns in your community, where people would be helped by having a meal prepared for them. Are there older people who might enjoy the company and food, or people who have young children or new babies who might enjoy having a meal cooked for them (probably without the company!). Does the group have friends who are having a tough time that they would like to invite to a party? Or would their parents really appreciate having a meal cooked for them and having some quality time with them?
Encourage the group to plan something realistic and appropriate, and help them plan and facilitate this as a group. Think about dates in the diary, venues, what will be cooked and who will do what. Plan it together and make cards to invite people, explaining that they want to show their love for these people with a meal!
You will need: A4 paper; pens; craft materials such as stencils or stickers; a laminator and laminating sheets
It is quite traditional for Christians to say a grace at meal times, thanking God for their food and other blessings. Ask the group to think about the things they have discussed today. Ask them to make a placemat with a grace or prayer inspired by these themes written on and decorated how they would like to! Some young people might struggle to think of a grace, so you could bring a book of prayers and graces if you have access to one, or alternatively you could find some online and print them off to be copied or to inspire! Laminate the prayers to make the placemats more durable.
Supporting documentsClick link to download and view these files
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