Youth Sunday School

Feasting On The Word

Feasting on the Word provides  opportunities for youth to explore
their personal and communal identity in Jesus Christ.  Students will learn to approach God’s word in each lesson using the following:

      • What is Important to know?
      • Where is God in these words?
      • So what does this mean in our lives?
      • Now what is God’s word leading us to do?

Biblical stories will come alive in new and creative ways. In response to God’s amazing, unconditional love, youth will be challenged to put their faith into action as they grow to understand themselves as Christ’s disciples. Each session includes a media connection section that ties the week’s Scripture passage to a film, song, or Web site.

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What Do You Think?

Justice, Joy, Kindness, Generosity, Love, Peace, Compassion

Are these important in life?

How can you model these in your life?

PRAY

Creator God, we gather as followers of Jesus Christ. Help us as we learn more about what it means to walk with you.  Amen

Today’s reading is from a portion of John’s Gospel called the “farewell discourses.” The discourses are in the form of a long speech given by Jesus before the week of his arrest, trial, and death. Jesus teaches the disciples more about who he is and what his ministry is about. In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ teachings often include the words “I am.”   Listen for what Jesus calls himself in this passage as we read.

The Vine and the Branches

John 15: 1-8

15: 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

What does Jesus CALL himself in this passage?

What is important to know in these words?

Where is God in these words?

So, what does this mean for our lives?

Now what is God calling for us to do?

the-vine

I AM THE VINE

Picture yourselves as leaves on a vine.  The image of a vine and branches is a metaphor (or image) for the relationship between Jesus and his disciples.

What Do You Think?

What does the image of a vine tell us about Jesus?

 What does this metaphor tell us about God?

 What does the image of branches say about our relationship to Jesus?

READ: VERSE 2

 What happens when a tree or bush is pruned?  Pruning

in our lives could be described as getting rid of things that get in the way of living in God’s way.

Think about the world today.

What actions or ideas could be pruned so that new growth or ideas could emerge?

READ: VERSES 4 – 5

 Branches cannot be fruitful unless they are connected to the main vine that draws nourishment.

Staying Connected with God

What are some things that can help us stay connected to Jesus?

What are some things that might break the connection?

READ: VERSE 7

 What do you think Jesus’ statement means?

READ: VERSE 8

 DECIDE What are some ways that we can be fruitful as disciples of Jesus Christ?

Use some of the words we defined at the start of the Lesson.

Justice, Joy, Kindness, Generosity, Love, Peace, Compassion

How does our church community help us show God’s love in the world?

BEING FRUITFUL IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE

WATCH

CLOSING BLESSING

Jesus Christ is the vine, and we are the branches. Christ asks us to be

faithful and fruitful in our everyday lives. This week may you abide in

Christ’s love and show Christ’s love in the world. Amen.

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Acts 10:44–48

44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 46 for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47 “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

What is important to know?

Where is God in these words?

So, what does this mean for our lives?

Now what is God calling for us to do?

PRAYER

O God, open our eyes and hearts to perceive your Word to us. Amen.

Acts of the Apostles in Acts 10Beginning of the Christian Church

Up until this point in the book of Acts, the apostles had been teaching and preaching the good news about Jesus to other Jewish people. They thought that Jesus’ message was meant only for those within the Jewish faith (the insiders).

Think About It

Why do you think Peter decided to visit Cornelius, a Gentile?

 How do you think Peter felt that day in Cornelius’s house?

NOW Read: Acts 10:34–35 in your bible and think about this additional question:

How did the dream help Peter cross the boundary between insiders and outsiders?

Finally, read the scripture for today’s session Acts: 10: 44 – 48

What did Peter’s friends learn when they saw the gift of the Holy Spirit being given to the Gentiles?

 What did Peter decide to do?  

Think about: Peter’s daring and faithful step in Acts 10 removed the barrier separating Jews and Gentiles. His decision was the beginning of a whole new Christian church, one that included outsiders. Ask yourself Where do you see barriers being broken down in your school or other community?  What barriers could you break down to further fulfill Peter’s vision?

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS

Identify barriers of exclusion in your community and challenge yourself to help break down some of those barriers. Go to www.teenstakecharge.com and scroll to the bottom of the page to watch the video “#Youth In Action Brave New Films: Teens Take Charge Demanding NYC Mayor De Blasio to Take Action • BRAVE NEW FILMS.” Listen to these New York teens talk about their experiences. Discuss similarities and differences with diversity and segregation in your community. Go back to the top of the page and hover over the word “Voices” at the top and then click on “Testimony.”  Select a few of the pictures of the New York students and read their reflections, poems, and stories.

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Identify some of the barriers and divisions that exist in your school or community

Closing Prayer

O God, open our ears to hear what you are saying to us in the people we meet. Open our eyes to see the needs of people around us. Open our hands to reach out across barriers. Open our mouths to proclaim your good news. Open our minds to discover new truths about the world. Open our hearts to love you and our neighbors as you have loved us. Amen.

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“DEFINITELY” Or “NO WAY”

What do You think about PRAYER?

(answer definitely or no way)

Praying to God is easy?

It’s appropriate to pray for material things that we need?

Prayer is an important part of a relationship with God?

If your prayer isn’t answered, it’s because you haven’t prayed for the right thing?

The function of prayer is to influence God?

There are many different ways of praying?

In today’s Bible reading, prayer is one of the things that helped the disciples make an important decision. Recall that the book of Acts is a collection of stories about the early church and how the disciples offered the good news of the gospel. After the resurrection, the disciples often were aware of Jesus’ presence teaching them and offering support. This lasted for about forty days, and then Jesus made an announcement. Read the following verses.

Acts 1: 8-9

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

What does Jesus tell the disciples to do?

Today’s story takes place just after the ascension of Jesus. The disciples (now called apostles) are getting ready to do what Jesus asked them and continue the work that he started. They had an important decision to make. Read the following verses.

Acts 1:15–17, 21–22, 23-26

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters,[a] the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”

21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

Who seems to be the leader of the disciples after Jesus left?

What does Peter say needs to happen? Why?

What two things did the disciples do to help them come to a decision?

According to Peter, what kind of experience did Judas’s replacement need?

 

   In those days casting lots was a common way of making decisions, believing that God guided the decision. The names of the two candidates were written on stones or pieces of tile that were put into a container and shaken until one fell out.

What kinds of things might Matthias have been wondering about as he became part of the leadership team of the disciples?

 Jesus told the disciples that they would be witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (v. 8). That is seemingly an impossible task, but verse 14 indicates what helped them in their decisions about what to do next: being constantly devoted to prayer.

14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

What are some of the things we pray for in Church?

What role does prayer play in your life?

Review these steps as you think about a decision you may be facing.

WATCH

Pray

O God, open us to your Spirit as we learn to follow your ways. Amen

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Acts 2:1–21

The Story of Pentecost

2: 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Peter Addresses the Crowd

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[c]

THINK DIFFENTLY ABOUT DIFFERENCE

The scripture reading helps us understand how God sees human diversity: one of God’s greatest gifts to the world. At Pentecost, God through the Spirit does not erase our differences but embraces the fact that God has made us all so wonderfully different. Through ordinary human speech, the Holy Spirit establishes unity amid diversity, a fulfilled promise that even the most divided congregations and communities can take to heart

WHO OR WHAT CHARTS OUR FUTURE?

Today’s story invites us to imagine a future in which the power of those in control is challenged by something.

Ask yourself: What institutions or people seem most in control of charting the future?

Explain your response

PENTECOST

Pentecost means “the fiftieth day.”

Pentecost was also known as the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10) or the Feast of First Fruits.  It came fifty days after the Passover festival.

Pentecost originally was a harvest festival to offer thanks to God for the “first fruits”— the earliest crops.

 It still is celebrated in Judaism as Shavuot.

For Christians, Pentecost took on new meaning in the events recorded in Acts 2:1–21.

 Carefully read Acts 2:1 – 21 above again and consider:

What did wind and fire do in this story?

 Why do you imagine wind and fire symbolize the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church?

 What does the Holy Spirit give to the disciples? What is the significance of this gift?

 With which group do you identify: those who were amazed, those who were confused, or those who scoffed?

 Peter had denied Jesus only weeks earlier. How does hearing him boldly proclaim his message rehabilitate his witness for Jesus Christ? What role did the Spirit play?

RECOGNIZING THE SPIRIT

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Can you recognize and celebrate the Spirit’s movement in your dreams and visions?

          • Identify any of your experiences of the Holy Spirit
          • Does recognizing the Spirit at work in your life conform to what we know of God’s purpose: love for the world, justice for the oppressed, calling people to love and serve one another?

WATCH

 After destroying the environment of Thneedville, the Once-ler instructs Ted to plant the final tree seed and, in so doing, to plant the idea of change.

Think About It!

 What is the problem posed in the story The Lorax? In Acts 2?

  When it comes to dreaming about the future, what are Acts 2 and The Lorax urging us to do

CLOSING PRAYER

Take the flame of the Holy Spirit with you into the world this week. Amen

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John 3:1–17

3: 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you[f] do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.[g] 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.[h]

For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

What is important to know?

Where is God in these words?

So, what does this mean for our lives?

Now what is God calling for us to do?

PRAYER

Holy Spirit, make me an example of one who has been transformed by your grace. Amen.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

What is unconditional love?

Get two sheets of paper and at the top of each sheet write: “Who loves you unconditionally?” and on the other,

“How do you know or what actions show unconditional love?”

CONVERSATION BETWEEN JESUS and NICODEMUS

Write a news report on this conversation. To prepare for writing the report, locate the answers for five questions:

Who? What? Where? When? Why?

When your work is complete, think about your article. Which of the five W’s was hardest to answer? Why? 

What were the reasons reported as to why God sent Jesus?  Rank the following reasons from most important to least important:

          1. To show us God’s love.
          2. To show us God knows what it is like to be human.
          3. To show us what God is like.
          4. To show us what to believe.
          5. To give us eternal life

John 3: 16

Review of John 3:1–17 and read verse 16.  Martin Luther, among others, referred to John 3:16 as the gospel in miniature.

Think about THIS!!

What do you think is meant by the gospel in miniature?

 Which of the important truths about the Christian faith does John 3:16 include?

 What specifically does it say that God does?

What does God expect from people?

 What does God hope for people and the future?

GOD LOVES . . .

Silently make this declaration to yourself and fill in the blank, “God loves____. God sent Jesus to be with _____.” For example, “God loves (my mother). God sent Jesus to be with (my mother).”  You can do this a few hours each week for your friends and/or family members who you encounter during those few hours: “God loves _____. God sent Jesus to be with _____.”  The commitment would apply to strangers you see as well. “God loves that person who is homeless. God sent Jesus to be with him.

CLOSING PRAYER

O God, we thank you for loving us so much to come to us. Remind us every day that you are with us and that nothing can ever separate us from your love. Amen.

VIDEO CONNECTION

Talk About This With Someone

 Are there any acts that can make God stop loving us?

 What does the term grace mean to you? Is it shown in the film? 

How and when are we aware of God’s unending love and grace?