Session 3: God’s Way is Our Way: You Can’t Run Away From God

Objectives: By the end of this session participants should be able to . . .
1. tell the parable of the sower
2. discuss the parable of the sower and our response to God's call
3. tell the biblical story of Jonah and the fish
4. discuss how the story of Jonah and the fish relates to what happens when we resist God's will for us
5. list some "unpopular" vocations - i.e., suffering, living with a handicap, martyrdom, ministering to people who are very sick (AIDS, cancer, etc.), speaking out against things that are wrong or bad.
6. explain how "unpopular" or difficult vocations that provide help to others, are a very special way to glorify God
7. explain that we hurt ourselves and others when we try to avoid and resist what God wants us to do

Useful Texts for Leader Reflection/Preparation:
The Book of Jonah
Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13: 3-23; Mark 4: 3-8, 13-20; Luke 8: 5-15)

Script for acting out the story of Jonah and the fish (included).
Case Studies (included)

A: Younger Children (Objectives 3, 4 & 6)

Presentation: Jonah and the fish Act-out Play.
Split participants into three groups and name them A, B, and C. Using the enclosed story of Jonah give them 10 minutes to prepare a skit acting out their portion of the story.

Discussion Questions about Jonah.
What did God want Jonah to do? [Go tell the people of Nineveh that God was going to destroy them.]
Why did Jonah try to run away? [He didn't want to do what God wanted him to do.]
What happened when Jonah tried to run away? [A great storm came and put him and the people on the ship in danger.]
How did running away affect Jonah and the other people who were with him? [They were all in danger.]
What are some things that we know that we are supposed to do but usually try to avoid?
What usually happens when we try to avoid these things? [We make things worse and end up hurting ourselves and others.]

Activity: Our Ticket to Help.
God asks each of us to love God and help each other. When we help people we are saying "Yes" to God.
Using blank 4x6 cards write "Yes, I will help" on one side. On the other side, using magazines and clip-art, have the participants indicate one way in which they can use their special interests and abilities to help out either at home, church, school, or at camp. Hand out sheets of "special" stickers (something that says you are special, thank you, good work, etc.). The completed tickets and stickers will be taken home with the participants, or in the case of camp, to the day's remaining activities. As the participant completes the task on his or her ticket their parent, school teacher, priest, church school teacher, counselor, etc., will put on one of the special stickers and initial the card. By the end of the unit, each participant is to bring all their tickets back with stickers on them. The completed tickets will be put into the "basket" during the collection at the next Divine Liturgy as their "offering."

B: Pre-teens (Objectives 1, 2, 5 & 7)
Presentation: Skit on the parable of the Sower.
For this illustration you will need about 9 "players/actors."
Players: Sower
4 "seeds"
Baby Plants
Read the parable of the Sower from Matthew 13: 3-23. After each action in the parable the "player" is supposed to act out what you said in a melodramatic way. At the end of the parable stop and ask participants what they think the parable is about.
After you have exhausted all answers continue the skit with Jesus's explanation of the parable. The seeds then become the word of God, etc. This time however they are to act out a situation where this might happen (i.e., the sower is a church school teacher giving a class, the seeds are the students and the birds are friends who say it is stupid and the student agrees).

Discussion on Attitudes.
The seeds sown by the sower describe different attitudes people have when relating to God. Write a brief description of what happens to each of the seeds on a chalk board or large piece of paper.
· Name/describe the attitude each seed represents. [Listen and reject; Listen and quit; Listen and forget; Listen, do, and grow]
· Why do you think we outwardly reject some of the things we hear God and the Church saying to us?
· Why so we sometimes give up when we try to do what God wants?
· Why do we forget what God is telling us?
· What do you think it takes to really live the life God wants us to live? What do you think is that fertile soil that Jesus talks about in the parable?

Activity: Tough Tasks.
On 4x6 post-it notes write down various unpopular tasks to do around the church, camp, etc. (some tasks will be more unpopular than others) such as washing dishes, cleaning toilets, taking out the garbage, etc. There should be one or two more participants than post-it notes. Pass out the cards. Tell the participants that whoever has a card at the end of five minutes must do that task/chore. Participants cannot use their hands to avoid the card and must put the card on a piece of clothing.
After about five to ten minutes have everyone sit down.
Discuss the following questions:
Was there any way you could have avoided doing the chore?
What took more energy: trying not to do the chore or just doing it?

C: Teens (Objectives 3 - 7)
Presentation: Jonah and the fish
Split participants into three groups. Give each group a copy of the enclosed Story of Jonah and tell them that they have 10 minutes to make a skit called "Jonah in Today's World."
Have them come back and present their skits. Point out elements that express Jonah's rebellion from God, the trouble this caused him and others, and Jonah's reaction to God's judgement and mercy.

Discussion: Jonah mission reactions
· Why did Jonah try to run away? [He didn't want Nineveh to know about God's coming judgment and have the opportunity to repent. He wanted things his way, not God's way.]
· What was Jonah's reward for finally doing what God asked of him? [Nothing really. He did learn, however, about God's love and concern for all people whether they know God or not.]

This book was put into the Bible to teach people about doing what God asks of us in our lives. What do you think is the message the author is trying to get across?"
Brainstorm all answers and try and come up with a consensus.

· What are some things that God might ask of people today that would make them try to run away? What is something that God might ask of you that would make you want to run away?
· Why do you think God might ask this of you? [Because He knows you can do it while glorifying Him and loving others at the same time.]
· Does it mean that He doesn't love you? [No. It means that we have a special purpose for our life.]

Activity: Case Studies (attached)
Photocopy the case studies sheet. Have participants split into three groups and assign each group one of the situations on the sheet. Have each group read the situation and discuss the questions listed.
After about 15 minutes have the groups come back and report to the rest of the participants about their situation and what they discussed.

Teen Journal Reflection. God may be calling you or one of your friends to one of these difficult or "unpopular" vocations we have discussed. Choose one of these vocations and write a paragraph explaining how it would change your life and how it would affect how you treat others.

Session Conclusion:
Since before we were born, God has had a special plan and purpose for each of our lives. Sometimes that purpose isn't easy. Many times we are afraid, other times it hurts a lot. But God gives us a choice. We can either try to listen to Him and do His will or we can try to run away from it. Unfortunately, when we try to run away we end up hurting ourselves more and end up hurting others. We must remember that God's way is our way.