MEETING AIM: To see the power and compassion of Jesus.
BIBLE PASSAGE: John 5:1-15
BACKGROUND: Like the previous session, Jesus meets someone on the fringes of society and puts himself at risk in order to help them. Here Jesus reaches out to a man who couldn’t walk and heals him on the Sabbath day. He puts the man’s suffering above the laws imposed by the religious leaders. Before the session, think about where the Church today has put its own rules above helping others. How can you inspire your group to find out what is needed in your community and acting as Jesus did?
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: access to YouTube or your music streaming service
Tell the group about something you have a bizarre attachment to, such as an old banger that you refuse to send to the scrapheap or scruffy trainers that are too comfy to replace! Even people who say they have great taste in music have a few guilty pleasures, some terrible cheesy songs that they can’t help but enjoy. Play your ‘guilty pleasure’ and take suggestions from the group of their own.
You will need: table; chairs; pens; paper; microphones
Read John 5:1-15 and wonder together why Jesus asks the man if he wants to get well. Isn’t the answer obvious? Begging can be quite a lucrative business and being healed would mean he’s out of a job, looking for work!
Challenge the group to recreate the story as a news report. One or two could be news presenters, while others could be reporters and interviewees (the man who couldn’t walk, a disciple, a religious leader, a bystander). Give the group a few minutes to work out who everyone is and what they’re going to say (ensure you have roles for those who don’t want to act – they could be active in planning the sketch or they could direct). Perform the sketch.
Once you’ve finished, reflect on how all the characters might have felt in the story.
Think about why the religious leaders were angry. Keeping the Sabbath was important to them – it is one of the Ten Commandments after all. Yet, they had refined and refined the rules about the Sabbath, making them more and more detailed (and so hard to keep). Play a quick true or false quiz of real Sabbath rules.
Here are some true ones to get you started, add in any more that you know with some made-up ones in between.
- Thou shalt not wear only one sandal.
- Thou shalt not search your clothing for fleas.
- Thou shalt not read by lamplight.
- Thou shalt not put on eyeshadow.
- Thou shalt not use vinegar for toothache.
Religious institutions have a bad habit of inventing regulations that distract them from seeing what God is doing! God cares more about compassion, mercy and grace than petty rules created by pretentious leaders. Does your church have any additional rules and regulations that aren’t found in the Bible?
Continue your exploration of the passage by discussing these questions:
- What do you think of how Jesus acted?
- What do you think about how the religious leaders acted?
- What does this story tell you about Jesus?
- What does this mean for your life today?
- How can you show the same compassion that Jesus does?
You will need: information about social action happening in your local area; people who work in these projects to talk to your group (optional); pens and paper
Before the session, do some research about some social action projects that are happening in your community. If possible, invite someone who is already involved in a project to come and talk to your group.
Show the group the information about the social action projects and if you have managed to get a visitor, let the group interview them about what they do and why.
Challenge the young people to put their faith into action and show compassion to others, as Jesus did. How can you get involved in what is happening in your community? Or, if there is a need that isn’t yet being met, how can the group start to meet that need? Spend some time planning what you can do. This might be collecting for a food bank, helping with a homeless project or visiting a local old people’s home. If the group want to start to meet a current need, then they might need to raise awareness first, rather than get stuck in to action. Could they contact the local council or meet their MP? Perhaps you might run a fundraising event. Brainstorm your ideas and write out a plan for what you’d like to do.
Whatever you decide to do, ensure that you follow your church’s policies for safeguarding and health and safety. Also, keep parents and carers up to date about what you’re planning, so that they are happy for their young people to get involved.
Seeing your faith in action can be a powerful faith building activity – faith becomes not just a thing in our minds or hearts, but also a thing that can make a difference. As you continue with your plans, check in with the young people to see how they’re developing spiritually.
You will need: Post-it notes; pens
Give out Post-it notes and pens. Encourage the young people to write or draw prayers about their own lives – how can they show Jesus’ compassion to others day to day, or where do they need Jesus’ compassion in their lives? They should stick these on a wall in your meeting space.
Then ask the group to write or draw prayers about your social action plans. Stick these to the opposite wall. Spend a few moments reading all the prayers and joining in with them.
For the rest of this month’s sessions go to youthandchildrens.work/together.
Supporting documentsClick link to download and view these files
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