ugh. can’t catch up on blogging these days. maybe i DO need to break down and start using guest posts! :)
but: last weds night was a really good night with my 7th grade guys small group. first, some funny stuff:
7th grade guy: my ‘high’ this week was that i’m memorizing a song in japanese.
several guys were talking over each other. i snarled at them, with a sort-of monster-y groan.
7th grade guy: are you a zombie?
another 7th grade guy (very matter of fact voice): he’s a part-time zombie.
we played a couple quick rounds of ‘telephone,’ based on a couple guys begging for it.
“there was a pink turtle under my bed” became “there’s a fake turd under my bed”
“my butt got picked” became “my buttercup cares”
7th grade guy: i started a bear cult with my bi-polar friend and my schizophrenic friend.
a few minutes later, when the “high and lows” sharing got around to the dad of the 7th grade guy who made the previous comment (this dad is not normally a part of our group, and was just sitting in since my normal co-leader was out of town): well, my low was finding out that my son’s in a bear cult.
7th grade guy: i got a new bat today.
other 7th grade guy: animal or sport?
first 7th grade guy: my ear is bleeding.
second 7th grade guy: why’s your ear bleeding?
first 7th grade guy: why’s your ear not bleeding?
me, talking about what we mean when we say things have ‘strings attached’: there are so many things in the world that come with strings attached.
7th grade guy: puppets.
we talked about the concept of grace and unconditionality. i started by breaking the 15 guys present into three groups of 5. i gave each of them a piece of string and told them they had three minutes to create a 2-minute skit. the only requirements were:
1. everyone had to be in it
2. they had to use the string
3. they had to use the word “grace”
after they performed their skits, we had a chat about what we mean when we say things have “strings attached,” and what that has to do with the concept of grace.
we read the first part of John 1 (5 guys did, reading one paragraph each), and stopped after each paragraph to talk about anything we noticed that had to do with grace (or “no string attached”). we had a really interesting conversation at the spot where John 1:12 says “to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” one of the guys very insightfully asked, “wait, isn’t that a strings attached thing? is that an if/then statement.” i was really stoked he brought this up, but had to think quickly about how to explain it, since the sentence structure really does look like an if/then construction. i grabbed a miniature hershey bar out of our tub-o-pens-and-junk and held it out on my open palm in front of him. i said, “hunter, this candy bar is for you, no strings attached. nothing you do will cause me to close my hand or take back the offer.” of course, he reached out and took it. i asked, “what did you do to get that candy bar?” “took it,” he responded. i said, “that’s what’s going on here in this passage, and in our relationship with god. grace is freely offered to us, no strings attached. but we need to take it. that’s why the verse says ‘to all those who did…’” (yeah, it was a good moment. awesome understanding swept across his face and other guys’ faces.)
since this was more of an “understanding” outcome than a big-time actionable application, i handed out little slips of paper (printed on parchment!) that looked like this:
i asked the guys to put it in their wallets or phone cases or on a dresser or nightstand to remind them of the no-strings-attached nature of god’s grace.
shoot: two of them even thanked me! (crazy!)