Icebreaker: Name Memory!
The goal of this game it to help students learn and remember the names of the people in the group.
Get everyone in a circle (or multiple circles depending on the size of your group) and ask for a volunteer to start by giving their name. The person to their right then has to then say the first person’s name as well as their own and so on around the circle. The last person to go has the hardest job because they have to recite everyone else’s name before introducing themself.
Note: Many in your group may know each other already, so consider adding a piece of trivia along with the names of the people in the group. Possible trivia questions may be: favorite animal, favorite place they have traveled to, favorite animated movie, birth month, least favorite food.
When the game is over, ask students to rate the difficulty of remembering all the names and trivia points on a scale of one to ten. Then ask, “What other things do we struggle to remember?” After this question has been discussed, pivot into the scripture lesson.
The book of Jeremiah is written to encourage the Israelites who are living in exile, reminding them that they have a good future, and an identity and home with God. Jeremiah was a prophet sent by God to the nation of Israel to remind them who they were, and who they belonged to. Through this constant reminding, Israel was able to keep hold of their identity, even when they were surrounded by other persuasive influences. In Jeremiah’s context, exile was used as a tool for strong nations to dominate and eventually absorb another nation. Through the process of exile, the people of the weaker nation would tend to abandon their practices of faith, the rituals that helped shape their lives in their homeland, and adopt in their place the habits and even the faith of the dominant nation.
Read Jeremiah 31:31-34.
What message did God give Jeremiah to remind the Israelites of their identity?
If you have a whiteboard, write “Promise” at the top and make two columns on the rest of the board. Label one column “Will be” and the other column, “Will not be”. IF not have someone do it on w a piece of paper.
Covenant is a specific kind of promise. In the Ancient Near East, when nations were against one another, the stronger one would try to capture the weaker one and take them into the country of the stronger nation. This was what the word exile meant. However, there was another possible relationship between nations. When the stronger nation wanted to make an alliance with the weaker nation, the two nations would make a covenant together. That covenant was an official promise that specified the terms of the relationship.
So, when God makes a covenant with Israel, he is acting in direct contrast to Israel’s oppressors. God makes a covenant as the stronger member of the relationship, using his strength to support them through making an alliance with them. God gives Israel the chance to identify with him rather than lose their identity in exile. Jeremiah 31:31-34 lists the terms of God’s promise, noting specifically what his promise will be and what it will not be.
Ask a different student to read each verse again (Jeremiah 31:31-34), pausing in between verses.
In between each verse, fill out the columns together, calling out what that verse says about God’s promise. (Note: when scripture says “I will” put it in the “will be” column. When the scripture says, “will not” or “no more” put it in the “will not be” column.) By the last verse, you should have a good-sized list of the implications of God’s promises.
With that list in the background, ask some discussion questions choose from the following list:
- Why do you think God is making a new covenant or promise with the Israelites?
- What do you think the significance may be of having a promise that is new instead of old (e.g. “Not like the covenant I made with your ancestors” vs.32)
- What is God explicitly promising to do?
- What is God promising to remember?
- Is there anything God is promising to forget?
- How do you feel/what do you think about the idea that God can choose to forget some things?
- Is there anything going on in your life that you hope God specifically remembers?
- What does God’s promise have to do with how the Israelites see themselves? Said another way, What is the relationship between God’s promise and the Israelite’s identity?
- Does it matter that this promise is made to the Israelites in exile? Would it change anything for the Israelites if God made this same promise when everything was going well for them?
Want to make this more hands on? Try this reflection activity: Creating Holy Reminders from the Youth Worker Collective (https://youthworkercollective.com/creating-holy-reminders/)
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