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BIBLE PASSAGE: Genesis 37
BACKGROUND: This chapter is loaded with reasons why this family would implode as it did. A favourite son, jealous brothers, boasting, strange dreams…This story is also a fantastic tool to explore tensions and failures in our own family relationships and what we can do about it. This session does not explore the ‘what happened next’ for Joseph and his family, but it can be helpful to share how God’s hand was at work at every stage and brought restoration to this family in the end.
As you begin the session, serve refreshments and gather the young people together. Use this time as an opportunity to catch up with any news from the last week and see how your young people are. Ask the group about their own family experiences (being sensitive to particular situations within your group, and reminding them of the need for confidentiality and respect).
Encourage the group to think particularly about their relationships with their siblings: what makes them good? When are they more challenging?
You will need: large sheets of paper; marker pens
Invite your young people to gather in small groups together with others they are comfortable working with. Give each group a large sheet of paper and a selection of marker pens and ask them to work together to create their own ‘ideal sibling’, drawing and annotating their ideas on the sheet.
Encourage the young people to be creative and imaginative, but also to be sensitive and not share any particularly personal details of their own siblings! What features would their ‘ideal sibling’ have or not have? Why did they choose these ideas?
You will need: Bibles; selection of simple props and costumes
If you have a large group, you may wish to divide into smaller groups for this activity to ensure that everyone is actively involved.
Distribute Bibles for everyone to look at the story of Joseph’s dreams in Genesis 37. Read the story together and discuss briefly to ensure that everyone has a good understanding of the tensions in the relationships here.
Explain to the young people that this story may be a little difficult to fully understand because of some of the cultural references. Ask the young people to consider what this story would look like in a contemporary setting. What would Joseph’s father have given him to show he was the favourite son? What images may Joseph’s dreams have involved?
Challenge the young people to work together (in smaller groups if appropriate) to create a short drama to retell this story in a modern setting. Give them permission to change anything from the story, so long as they remain accurate to the central plot. When they have had enough time to plan and rehearse their sketches, gather the group together to watch one another’s performances.
As a group, discuss how these retellings help us to better understand this story and add power to the tensions in the relation- ships. What do we discover from seeing the story told in this way?
As you draw this time to a close, explain to the young people that in many ways this episode is the prequel to a great saga that would follow Joseph’s whole life. Through it, we see how God works in big ways to use Joseph to effect entire nations, but also restores the relationships between Joseph and his family.
Continue the discussion about the story, using these sessions as a prompt:
- How do you feel about this story?
- Who do you feel most sorry for?
- Is there anyone in this story that you can relate to?
- What would you like to change in this family’s relationships?
- Where is God in this story?
You will need: a selection of examples of ‘in this family’ rule posters; paper; pens; art
materials or laptop and graphics programme Before the session, gather together a selection of examples of ‘in this family’ family rule images, either as posters to display or as images which can be shown via a projector. (Many examples of these can be found on Pinterest.) Show these to the group and talk about which examples they like, which ones they think are important and which ones they would like to include.
Invite your young people to take some time to create their own ‘in this family’ rules, either thinking about something they would like to uphold in their own family, or if they are more comfortable, to direct them to Joseph and his family. Provide paper and pens for them to begin drafting their lists.
Depending upon the skills and interests of your young people and leaders, you could either provide art materials for them to create a poster displaying their rules artistically, or provide laptops with graphics programmes which the young people can use to design and print out their posters.
Display the finished posters together and provide copies for the young people to take away for their own families.
You will need: paper
Gather the young people together and give each of them a sheet of paper. Ask them to crumple it in their hands and hold it outstretched in front of them. Explain that you are going to be praying for your families and encourage them to think about their own family relationships, bringing them to God, as you pray.
Begin by leading them in a prayer for all those families who find themselves under pressure, where relationships feel crushed or crumpled. Encourage the young people to slowly smooth out their sheets of paper with their fingers and, as they do so, pray that God would bring restoration to those relationships, bringing peace, calm and wholeness to those relationships which have been damaged.
Remind your young people that you are available for prayer and support as appropriate later.
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