Are We There Yet? - Joy

Week 3: December 15 – Joy
Matthew 11:2-11, John the Baptist wants to know if Jesus is the one we have been waiting for

Note to the Teacher

In this lesson youth will reflect on joy. How does your youth group space offer joy to those who enter? How does God bring joy into our world, especially in places where joy seems unlikely? And how can your group create mementos of joy that share of your life together as a family of faith?

Time    Description of Activity

10 min. 1. Ice Breaker: What sparks joy for you?

“Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” has become very popular in this past year. Kondo invites us to examine the clutter in our lives. She invites us to look at our possessions and ask, “does this spark joy?” If it doesn't, give thanks for when it did and then get rid of it. If it does spark joy then hang on to it.

For this ice breaker you will tidy up the youth room. As a group take an inventory of your youth room. What items spark joy? Perhaps pictures and art pieces made from retreats, mission trips, lock-ins, or youth group nights. Maybe your room is filled with posters from concerts your group has gone to, or a variety of items from your rotation of different games the group plays.

Pick out certain items and ask the group what in the room sparks joy. You can help declutter your room this way. If the group is struggling to find things that spark joy in the room, you can brainstorm together to think of creative and fun ways to make the room more joyful and reflective of the life of the youth group (more on this in the activity part of the lesson).

5 min. 2. Read Scripture

Our scripture today shares of God’s vision of bringing joy and life in the desert and wilderness. Read Isaiah 35:1-10

15 min. 3. Discussion

  • “The desert and dry land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice.” In what ways might our culture and world be a desert and dry land?
  • In a desert culture, Isaiah paints a picture of blooming flowers and green pastures and waters will spring up. What are some examples of what that could look like in our desert culture? How is God breaking into our world with joy?
  • Isaiah invites us to “strengthen weak hands, say to those who are panicking: be strong, don’t fear!” Joy is communal. Joy is something we receive from others and give to others. What are ways people in your life have given you joy? How have you given joy to others?
  • How has this church and youth group given you joy?

Read Matthew 11:2-11

  • In Advent, we are in a season of waiting – waiting for the coming of Christ. John the Baptist is waiting and hears the stories about Jesus and sends word to ask, “Are you the one who is to come?” Why do you think Jesus didn’t give him a yes or no answer, but responded to John’s disciples, by saying, “go and tell John what you have seen and heard . . .”?
  • How did the ministry and work that Jesus did in this passage bring joy into the world?
  • After Jesus shared to John’s disciples about the miracles he has done he said, “Happy/joyful are those who do not stumble and fall because of me.” What do you think he meant by this?

20 min. 4. Activity - Create Something Joyful

As your group has looked at your youth room to see what sparks joy and what doesn't, work together as a group to create something for the room that will spark joy and be a memory of your life together.

Several options:

  1. You can paint/draw a mural for the youth room, inviting everyone to draw pictures of joy. If you have time and the artists to help, you can do this in the spirit of Isaiah and have a mural of a desert and invite the group to draw flowers, greenery, and water on it. Name the flowers, the grass, sun, and waters with what brings them joy
  2. You can begin putting together a photo collage from youth group nights, previous trips, etc.
  3. You can create a fun board for announcements to share joyfully about upcoming youth activities and trips, and for youth to also be able to share their own announcements about events and activities in their lives that bring them joy that they would like to share
  4. You can print out individual or a large-size prayer labyrinth template and invite youth to write their prayers of thanksgiving and joy throughout the labyrinth. If you are able to print out a big one, the whole group can write all their prayers on the one showing the communal nature of our faith and joy together. Or if the group does individual ones, you can put them all together in a collage or poster and hang on the wall.

50 min.

Resources Needed

Depending on which one of the above your group does:

  • Butcher paper
  • Markers or pencils
  • Photos from previous youth events and trips
  • Cork board or other materials to make an announcement board
  • Printed out prayer labyrinths with markers and pens