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"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
"Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny." Matthew 5:21-26
DESTROY AND REPAIR
a magazine ad(or a poster), scissors, and a roll of clear tape for each team
Optional: a small candy prize for the winning team
Divide your students into teams. I'll probably explain this over and over in this book: you decide the size of the teams, based on the overall size of your group. I won't treat you like an idiot in this book but as a peer who will tweak and modify what I write here, even if I don't tell you to do so! So if you have a tiny group (4-7 kids), don't even break up into two teams for this exercise-it will work fine. Otherwise, your teams can be anywhere from 3-4 kids each to 10 kids each. The larger the team, the more helpful it will be to have an adult leader in each team.
Give each team a magazine ad, or better yet, a poster (in other words, something graphic that's not too small). Also give them a pair of scissors. Don't give them the tape yet (or even let them see it)-you don't want them to know that they'll be repairing the damage you'll ask them to do.
Now tell them to destroy their ads or posters. Give them about two minutes to cut or tear or otherwise mutilate the original. If your kids are normal junior highers, this will be a fairly quick process-especially for teams that are predominantly boys. Destruction is part of the DNA of a junior higher!
After all the teams are done with their destructive work, pass out a role of cellophane tape to each group. Tell them they'll have 2 minutes to get the ad or poster back together. Then say, "go!" Some may whine and complain that you hadn't told them they'd be putting the pictures back together. Give them your best "tough luck" grin, and mention that their time is running out.
Modify the two-minute time limit. In other words, if no group is even close to completing their reconstructive work after two minutes, give them a bit more time. You can either declare the first team finished to be the winners, or you can wait until most are done and judge the winners as the best reconstructed original. Consider awarding a small candy prize to the winning team.
THE HUG FEST
volunteer actors for the Spontaneous Melodrama, and a copy of the script (at the end of this lesson) for you or another adult leader to read. You'll also need Bibles or some other way to show the scripture passage to your group (PowerPoint or MediaShout).
Make a transition out of the opening activity by saying something like: Just like you put those pictures back together-God really cares about a big word called "reconciliation," which means to put relationships back together.
Now ask for volunteers to participate in a Spontaneous Melodrama (or recruit them before your group meets). They won't have to learn any parts or lines. They just have to be willing to ham it up and act out the drama as you read it. Instruct the actors that when they do have spoken lines, you'll read them, and they should just repeat the lines in character. The characters are:
Joe's friends (2-3 actors)
One caution: you should try to recruit a fairly secure student for the role of Jake, since he's such a weird kid. If you recruit an outcast for this role, it could turn into a situation where kids are laughing at him rather than with him-and that's generally considered a no-no in effective ministry! If you have doubts that any kid in your group could handle the part, recruit a mature high school student or adult leader to play the part.
You'll also want to be ready for the second scene by having two empty seats out in the "audience" (your group) for Jake and Joe to sit in.
Now read the script, pausing for the actors to play their parts. After you read the scripted line of a character, pause for the character to repeat the line. Coach or direct a bit when necessary, encouraging the actors to get into their parts.
After the Melodrama is over, give the actors a big round of applause, then have everyone turn in their Bibles to the dare from Jesus (or display the passage in a way that everyone can see it). I'd discourage you from simply reading the passage without letting your group see it. Junior highers are greatly helped by seeing scripture-it helps focus their attention (at least a tiny bit!), and it helps them grasp the passage more.
Read Matthew 5:21-26. Then ask these questions:
What's the dare from Jesus? Seek reconciliation with others. Try to repair relationships you've damaged. And don't wait to do it!
Why do you think Jesus cares about us repairing hurt relationships? It's one of God's biggest goals-to help us experience healthy relationships. It's also one of the ways we show the world we're different-by how we love each other.
Can you think of an ultimate example of reconciliation that Jesus provided for us? When Jesus died on the cross, he opened the way for us to be reconciled with God!
Why do you think Jesus wants us to get to this right away-not to wait? When we put stuff off, it's easy for it to never get done!
Why is it so difficult to reconcile with people we've wronged? They might not want reconciliation. Peoples' pride gets in the way. It's easy to justify the wrong we do to others as paying them back for something they did to us. We don't see many people doing it!
copies of Wilpage 1.1, on page 15 (Reconcilers, Inc.) and pens or pencils for each student.
Have kids work individually or in pairs to fill out the "Job Application" on the Reconcilers, Inc. Wildpage (1.1). It's simply a set of three case studies where your students will think through what reconciliation looks like in the life of a young teen.
After kids have had about five minutes to work through the sheet, debrief it by walking through each scenario and asking for possible solutions.
Non paper option: Duh, this would be a great small group discussion without giving out copies of the Wildpage.
DO I DARE?
Either copies of the Do I Dare? bookmarks on page 16 or the "Reconciliation, Inc." Wildpage you just completed, along with pens or pencils for everyone.
You'll need something for students to write on. If you used Wildpage 1.1 (Reconcilers, Inc.) for the last exercise, you can just have students turn it over and write on the blank backside. If you didn't use the Wildpage, or if you are just a freak about handing out lots and lots of papers to your students (yup, that's me too), make copies of the "Do I Dare?" bookmark page at the end of this lesson and cut them into strips.
Walk your group through four questions:
Who have I done harm to?
How did I do harm?
What can I do to reconcile with this person?
Do I Dare?
Ask the questions one at a time (have your kids write them down if you're using blank paper), and have them write an answer. Talk about each question and different responses kids have before moving on to the next question. Some of your students might have a difficult time thinking of someone they've harmed. If this is the case, ask the group to brainstorm different ways junior highers tend to harm each other. These could include, but are certainly not limited to:
Saying mean things
Degrading or Teasing
Creating foul smells around each other
Many, many more ways!
The last question-"Do I Dare?"-is the challenge. It's asking the students if they're willing to take the dare and try to reconcile with the persons they've just described. If their answer is "no," they should simply write so. Berate them and call them "wimps" (I'm kidding). If their answer is "yes," they should write a time and place for carrying out this reconciliation work.
Be sure to close your time in prayer, thanking God for his ultimate reconciliation work with us of having Jesus die on the cross (and that was reconciliation offered for something we had done, not something He did!). Also ask for courage to carry out these reconciliation action plans.
Joe Jake Joe's friends (2-3 actors) The Preacher
One day Jake was standing in the hallway at school, and he had an urge to spin. Yes, this was strange behavior, but Jake didn't care. He just began to spin around in place. He spun and spun and spun. Eventually, he got really dizzy-he stumbled around trying to get his balance, but fell down to the ground. Then he got up and started spinning again.
Just then, Joe and his friends walked by. Joe and Jake went to the same church and youth group, but they weren't friends or anything. In fact, Joe normally stayed away from Jake because of Jake's weird spinning thing! Joe said to his friends, "Hey, let's teach this weirdo a lesson!"
Joe and his friends surrounded Jake, who was still spinning around. In fact, Jake now had his hands up in the air while he spun around, and was making little "wheee" sounds like a kid on a ride. Joe reached out his hand and stopped Jake. Jake was a little disoriented and off-balance, and he fell down again, taking Joe with him. Joe's friends started laughing uncontrollably.
Joe scrambled back up to his feet and yelled, "Jake, you are so weird!"
Jake smiled, and said, "So what?" Then Jake stood to his feet also.
Joe and his friends started pushing Jake around. They pushed him across their little circle to each other. This went on and on, and eventually, Jake put his hands in the air and started making the "wheee" sound again with a big smile on his face! This made Joe even more frustrated. He threw his knee into Jake's stomach and did an elbow drop on Jake's shoulder, dropping him to the ground again. Then Joe and his friends walked away, leaving Jake on the ground.
That Sunday, Jake and Joe were both sitting in church-not together, of course. Joe was feeling awful about what he'd done to Jake. He just couldn't get it out of his mind. In fact, he'd made up his mind to apologize to Jake at some point-but he had no idea when and where he would do it. This was really bugging him and causing him to twitch and spaz almost uncontrollably.
The preacher was up in front, beginning his sermon. Joe was still twitching and spazzing. Jake was listening and smiling really big. The preacher was really getting into it-banging the pulpit and jumping around. Then he stopped and read the scripture for the morning, which said something like this:
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
The scripture hit Joe like a ton of bricks-so much so that he jerked his chair back and fell onto the floor! He knew exactly what he had to do. He stood up and walked straight over to Jake. The preacher was still jumping around and banging the pulpit.
Joe knelt on the ground next to Jake and said, "Bro, what I did to you was totally wrong. Can you forgive me?"
Jake smiled and said, "Okay." Then Joe and Jake gave each other a big hug. And then they both hugged the preacher. And then Joe's friends came running in yelling, "We want hugs too!" And the whole room broke out into a giant hug-fest!
Re: Job Application
Allow us to introduce ourselves: we are Reconcilers, Incorporated. We're a group of young teens who've formed this new partnership to help advise people on how to go about reconciling with someone they've hurt. And we understand that you are interested in a position with our firm. The following application will help us decide if you are a fit for us.
Scenario #1:Jenni's Jealousy
Jenni's friend Maura just made the cheerleading squad, and Jenni didn't. Maura's so excited about it she can't seem to stop talking about the squad and the practices and the cute little uniforms. Jenni is burning up with jealousy and stops talking to Maura. In fact, she doesn't speak with Maura for almost two months! Jenni wants to make things right with Maura. As an employee of Reconcilers, Inc., what would you suggest to her?
Scenario #2:Mike's Mouth
Mike can't shut up! He blabs about everything anyone tells him. And when Carson shares some really personal and confidential stuff about his parents, Mike makes sure everyone in the youth group knows all about it. Carson is really hurt and embarrassed. Mike feels terrible about what he's done. As an employee of Reconcilers, Inc., what would you suggest to him?
Scenario #3:Ryan's Rumor
Ryan's not even sure why he did it. Maybe it was because he was trying to impress people. Whatever the reason, the damage was done now. Ryan made up a rumor about Grace. He'd told people she'd had sex with a couple guys he knows. And everyone believed him! Ryan doesn't think there's any way he can repair the damage he's done without everyone hating him. As an employee of Reconcilers, Inc.,
Excerpted from Wild Truth Bible Lessons by Mark Oestreicher Copyright © 1996 by Mark Oestreicher. Excerpted by permission.
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