Thursday, December 16, 2010

    2010 Advent Ideas for Youth Ministry # 6: Nativity Bible Study

    What sort of power is the power of God? Explore this question with your youth through this Advent and Christmas Bible study.

    Getting Ready: Open with a game of “Guess my Power.” Tape on the back of each youth one of the “super powers” listed below. Give students time to mill about the room and ask yes or no questions of others in an attempt to guess their power. They are not allowed to ask direct questions like “Is my power invisibility?” As they guess their powers, they should help others guess theirs.

    Powers: Flight, teleportation, shrinking yourself, money, love, listening, xray vision, compassion, speed, empathy, generosity, healing, mind reading, turn into ice, genius IQ, turn into an animal (add others as needed)

    Follow up by asking whether there were any surprises about the powers that made the list? Are all of these really powers? Why or why not?

    Next, do a continuum exercise to challenge the youth to consider whether or not they think certain powers in our world are positive or negative. Designate an imaginary line on the floor, name each entity below, and invite youth to stand somewhere on that continuum to express how they rate the positive or negative effect of each entity's power.  For each round,  invite several youth to explain their decision:

    Wall Street, the military, the Church, police, teachers, U.S. Government, terrorists, the president, your parents, friends, Osama Bin Laden, Christians  (Note: This portion of the lesson generated a great deal of discussion with our youth as they found that there was no clear-cut answer among the group).

    Digging In: Focusing on the nativity texts of Matthew, divide into small groups to read the text and list the various types of power and relationships in the characters and plot of the story.  Use a handout, which you may download  here as a pdf, to rate which powers in the story are negative and positive. In the small groups, consider whether or how God is present in any of these examples. Ask: What might this story tell us about how first century followers of Jesus understood God/God’s power/God’s participation in human activity? What does it say about how God may be active in the world/our lives today?

    Reflecting:  Come back together to share what each small group discussed. Ask: Why do you think Matthew chose to start his story with Jesus as a little baby? What might this say about how God's power works in the world? Where do you see parallels between this story and the Exodus story about God's solidarity with those at the bottom of society? Why do you think Matthew includes the Herod story? What does this say about worldly power? Of the “powers” represented in the story, which are most valued by culture? Which are most valued by God? 

    Wrapping It Up: Set out various magazines and invite youth to find images that may represent where they see the possibility of God’s power working through the meek, the disenfranchised, the lowly, the humble in today's world. Share the images and offer prayers for all those who need to experience this sort of power.