MEETING AIM: To explore how Jesus includes those outside social boundaries and consider what that means for us.
BIBLE PASSAGE: John 4:1-44
BACKGROUND: The woman Jesus meets at the well is outside his traditional sphere for a number of reasons: she’s a woman, she’s a Samaritan and she has been married many times (and at the moment is living with someone she is not married to).
However, this is not a barrier for Jesus to talk to her, nor do these things stop her being part of the kingdom of God.
Think about some of the young people in your group – would they be considered to be outside? How can you help them to meet Jesus in the same powerful way that this woman does? How can you help them see that Jesus wants to get to know them, regardless of what they think they have done or who they think they are?
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. Ask the group if they have ever felt on the outside of things – a social group, an event or their family. (Be sensitive with this discussion.)
You will need: small pieces of card; marker pen
Before the session, write the names of different celebrities on the pieces of card, one name per piece. These should be people the group knows, but try to have a wide variety: the Queen, Danny Dyer, Harry Kane, Ariana Grande.
Give out the cards randomly to the young people and challenge them to think how their celebrity might interact with others. Ask the group to walk around, then at the signal to stop, they should greet the person nearest to them as if they were the celebrity on their card. How would they treat the other ‘celebrity’ when they find out who it is? How would Chris Hemsworth talk with Saffron Barker?
After a minute or so, ask the young people to move around and ‘meet’ someone else.
Using the Ignatius way of reflecting (using your imagination), read John 4:1-26. Get the young people to find themselves a space where they won’t be distracted, but can still hear you. Ask them to close their eyes and explain to them that they will be using their imagination to reflect upon this story before you read the passage out loud. Emphasise the point that Jesus encounters us through his Word and our imagination. Before you begin, ask the Holy Spirit to inspire and be present during the reading.
Read the passage once, asking the young people to simply listen and become familiar with the story. Read it again, this time encouraging the young people to reconstruct the scene in their mind and find a place within it, asking themselves these questions as they do so:
- Who are you in the story? A central figure or bystander?
- What are the sounds and smells that surround you?
- Listen to what is said and look around you, look at the expressions on people’s faces and listen to the emotions that fill their words.
- What else can you hear, see or feel?
Read the story for a third time. Ask the young people to reconstruct the scene with themselves as the person at the well, still using the same imaginative techniques as before. After this exercise, ask:
- How did you find the exercise?
- Which character did you take on in the second reading?
- How did it feel to be the person at the well during the third reading?
- What stood out for you? How did God speak to you?
- What did you learn about Jesus from this?
Continue your exploration of the passage by discussing these questions:
- Who are those in society that we might pass judgemental glances towards?
- What should our response be to those who feel left out?
- Have you ever felt like the woman at the well? When? Why?
- What do Jesus’ actions here tell you about him? What new things have you learnt about Jesus?
- As Jesus enters the scene, he breaks cleanliness laws and social norms in spending time with this woman. Where can we do the same?
You will need: paper and pens
Give out paper and pens. Ask them to write or draw the activities that they do in an average week. This could include school, sleep, eating, sports, time on their phones etc.
After they have done this, ask the young people to get into pairs and think about how they might worship and encounter God through these seemingly mundane activities. How can they meet with Jesus in a radical way, as the woman does here? Do all our encounters have to be big and impressive (like at a summer festival or big worship event)?
Go on to ask the group how they can do what Jesus did and reach out beyond their social norms? It might mean speaking to those not in their ‘tribe’ or to those outside society’s boundaries as a whole. These could be people who are homeless or those new to your town or country. What needs to change about their regular week to make space for this?
Set up three different spaces for prayer, then get the young people to choose what they would like to pray for. The first space is prayer for those who are excluded because of who they are. The second space is prayer for passion to encounter Jesus through the Bible. The third space is prayer to help worship God.
After they have prayed, bless the group with the following blessing / commissioning:
“Go and be of good courage, seeking all who are lost, and lonely. And may you encounter Jesus there and receive all that you need for the coming week. And the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who come to meet us in our home, our street, our school and church bless you now, and forever more. Amen.”
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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