Play a round of the card game happy families. As you play, chat about different families and how they are made up.
Search YouTube or a TV broadcaster’s website for a scene from a soap opera where a family argues and insults each other (these scenes are generally in abundance in Christmas episodes!). Watch the clip together and try to identify all the things that are going wrong in the clip. Are people not listening to each other? Are people bringing up past wrongs? Are they quick tempered, proud or rude?
If appropriate, share a story when your own family had a mass argument. What caused it? How did you resolve all the issues? Do this sensitively, as some young people may not have the easiest of home lives.
Key point 1
An absence of love in our families can be painful. If love is lacking from the family situations of those in our group, how can we provide love?
Say: The passage we’re going to explore today is often read at weddings, as it’s all about love. However, it’s not about romantic love. This letter to the church in Corinth was written because the people in the church didn’t love each other. They were getting everything wrong and Paul had to remind them what living as a community of God meant. And that included loving each other, not arguing and taking sides.
Give out Bibles and read 1 Corinthians 13 together. Split your group into threes or fours. Ask them to choose a verse from this passage and come up with a situation that might illustrate that verse. For example, a group might look at the phrase: “[Love] doesn’t keep a record of wrongs others do,” and come up with a scenario where housemates or family members have diaries made up completely of things that their fellow housemates / family members have done wrong.
Challenge these smaller groups to devise a short drama to demonstrate their ideas. After a few minutes’ rehearsal, enjoy performing and watching these dramas. Don’t reveal which verse they relate to, but let the rest of the group guess after they have watched the role play.
Ask: What impact will the love that Paul writes about have on the church in Corinth? How will it change the way that the whole community works? Try to come up with some suggestions based on the impact of love in the different situations in the chapter. Is this what loving each other looks like practically?
Key point 2
All the letters in the New Testament were written for specific reasons and have specific contexts. The letters to the Corinthian church were written to a church that was tearing itself apart. People were putting themselves before others. Like the people in Micah’s prophecy (see session three), they were going through the motions of faith, but not putting it into practice. But loving others as they loved themselves would turn their lives around.
Love is… in my life
Remind the young people of the two most important commandments from session two: love God and love your neighbour. Can they see parts in their own lives where they might need to act out of love rather than self-interest, hurt or selfishness? Allow a few moments of silence for young people to think about this. Make sure the Bibles are still available, so that the group can refer back to 1 Corinthians 13 if they want to.
What should we do?
Read out Matthew 5:43-48 and Micah 6:6-8 (if you did sessions two and three, you will have already come across these passages). Help your young people to see how these inform what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 13.
So, what does this mean for our lives? Write down some ideas on post-it notes and stick them on another sheet of paper. If you did session two and / or three, then stick the post-it notes on the same sheet of paper you used then, to keep an ongoing record of your prayers and actions. Keep coming back to this sheet of paper to see how God has answered your prayers and helped you in loving your neighbours practically.