Session 7: Our Life in Christ: From Conception, through Crucifixion, to Resurrection

This session seeks to wrap up the entire unit by turning once again from the specific issues to the big picture of our life in Christ. Hopefully, having looked at some serious issues and what a Christian response to them really means, teens will have enriched and deepened their own understanding of living life as a Christian. This session can be used as an opportunity to "debrief," to discuss their experience and help them discover how much they have learned (and you). This session should also propel them towards action and ministry as youth leaders themselves. Remembering the Cross, they now can help others in these difficult situations. It is important for youth to be able to take the Gospel message and its transfiguring power into their own lives at home, at school, and anywhere that they may be.

Realizing the value of our own lives and potential can inspire us to start choosing the right way now. One way of inspiring teens to the life in Christ is by connecting their life to the cycle of life that the Church lives each week, each year, each life, and in each of us personally. From conception to the crucifixion of mortal death, to our resurrection on the last day, we become part of the story of Christ and His Church, not just observers. This session seeks to create in them a lasting sense of their own place in God’s creation.


1. To affirm each other as unique and gifted human beings.

2. To affirm the value of human life as a precious gift.

3. To bring closure to the study unit.

Useful Texts:

Revelation 4-7


Icon of the Last Judgement,

Icon of the Crucifixion

Icon of the Resurrection



I. Opening Prayer

II. Check-In and Review

III. Activity #1: The Seven Seals

IV. Activity #2: Falling into Faith

V. Activity #3: Group Gift-Giving

VI. Conclusions

VII. Closing Prayer

I. Opening Prayer

II. Check-In: Have all participants stand in a circle.

As we go around the room, sing your name aloud once instead of saying it. Then as a group, we will sing your name back to you. Keep your eyes open and look at the people around you as you and they sing. You are created in the image and likeness of God. Your name is a prayer. Sing!

Review: Bring the top 10 lists of ways to manage depression and bring joy to life from session 6.

III. Activity #1:

Time: 15-20 minutes.

Purpose: This is a review of the whole course that seeks to bring together the main themes in a unified manner. As a “final exam” participants will explore not only a review of what they have learned in this unit, but will do so in the context of the Last Judgment.

The area should be somewhat decorated for this last session. Display Icons of the Last Judgement, The Crucifixion or the Crucified one, and the Resurrection. You will need one person to act as a reader, preferably not a student but a co-leader if you have one. Create a sober but dramatic atmosphere. Be dignified and mysterious but remember that this is not a church service and should not be confused with such.

The reader will be reading (preferably chanting) verses of scripture from the Revelation. In between each section, you will softly speak to them the type in bold print and ask them questions which they should either answer in the journals or simply contemplate to themselves. This activity is purposefully heavy on the listening side because the rest of the session is very active. This activity also sets the mood for the other activities.

Begin as follows immediately after check-in. Ask everyone to sit in a circle, with one corner being open to the icons on display. Darken the room and light candles for extra effect. Make sure the reader has a stand with enough light to read. Participants may close their eyes and breathe evenly.

Reader: Revelation 4:1-11.

This is the image of heaven. This is how we were created to be, to be with God in His Glory and Radiance. Yet we do not live in this wonderful state, lifted up in the Spirit and beholding wondrous things. We are fallen. We live and we die. But we are not meant to die but to live, and to live forever.

Reader: Revelation 5:1-14

Between the time we are born and the time we die, we go through many stages of growth. This is the spiritual journey. The journey begins when we are faced with challenges to our sense of well-being and happiness. Suffering comes into the world, our world, and we are set off. Like Adam and Eve who had to leave the idyllic Garden when sin and suffering came into the world, we are left with the longing of the peace and joy we had lost.

What is the peace that you seek? What is the joy you came to find? Pause, then cue reader to continue.

We are born into this world yet we do not know yet what God has planned for us.

Reader: Revelation 6:1-2

The first step of the journey is accepting the challenge of going. We cannot progress any further down the road of life until we begin to accept the burdens of our choices and the things we have no power to change.

Before long our endurance is challenged, and we are tempted for an easy way out. We yearn for a quick end, for an easy life and an “easy death”. That is the spirit of Euthanasia.

What makes you want to give up the fight and give in and escape? Pause.

When we trust in God and accept to take up our Cross and follow Christ, we are crowned with his glory and given the strength to go on. This is the first step, the step of martyrdom.

Reader: Revelation 6:3-4

The second step of our journey comes when we realize that whatever our suffering is, it is not the most important thing in our life. The things that made us comfortable and secure begin to lose their importance. Worldly pleasures and worldly pains are fleeting.

But we are tempted to hold on those empty priorities, and give up our spirit for temporary comfort and security. This is the spirit of Abortion. We are freed from it when we accept responsibility for ourselves and put our trust in God who will provide.

What are you holding on to that keeps you from moving forward on your spiritual journey? Pause.

We are drawn to an eternal calling, an ultimate Truth, a divine love. And so we come to learn freedom through learning sacrifice. Having taken on the burden of the Cross, we now ascend it as Christ did to give our very lives for love. This is the step of sacrifice.

Reader: Revelation 6:5

On the third step of the journey we can begin to let go of all the hurts and the sufferings, having given ourselves to God’s care. But the memory of pain still hurts, and we are tempted to hold onto that pain because we think it gives us strength to endure. This is the spirit of Capital Punishment.

But love comes into us and we forgive others as we are forgiven. No longer living for ourselves, we let go of all things we have held so dearly on to. We give up our stones of anger and pain. And we receive forgiveness with every time we forgive.

What stones do you carry around your heart? What weighs down on you on your spiritual journey? Pause

We are washed and purified of our sins. Our wounds are cleaned and our bodies are wrapped in white cloth as we are laid into the tomb with Christ, awaiting our resurrection.

Reader: Revelation 6:7-8

At the fourth step we descend into hell, and face our fears, our sorrow, our sense of loss and isolation. Now we find out if life is meaningful, if there was a purpose for all this, if God truly does love us and has not forsaken us to the pit. In the darkness we seek the light within us.

Here we are tempted to despair. Here we are tempted to commit ourselves to destruction in order to avoid the pain that is still with us. This is the spirit of Suicide.

What is the peace that you seek? What is the joy you have come to find? Pause.

Going into our hearts, we find our joy, we find the kingdom of heaven. We let go of the last of our fear and fall into the arms of that love which burns so brightly, the love that Christ has for us. We are illumined, as in His light we see light. We are open to the joy of eternal life, ultimate truth, divine love.

Reader: Revelation 6:9-11

The last step of the journey is our resurrection. Illumined by the light, we are reborn in the light. Christ is risen, trampling down death by death, and upon us in the tombs, bestowing life! In our new life there is a new heaven and a new earth. The world around has been transformed — transfigured. We emerge as living icons of the living God.

Reader: Revelation 6:12-14

We cannot know when our journey will be complete— our life and the depths of our souls are a mystery. We can continue to grow towards God for all eternity, for His love is infinite. Everyday we are faced with the challenge of going through this process whenever sin and suffering enter into our world. Every time we come to the chalice we drink and eat the life of Christ, dying and being reborn. Every time we make a choice, no matter how big or small, we are taking steps forward or backward on this journey. Every time we open our hearts and let God show through, we are stepping towards the infinite light and eternal life.

Reader: Revelation 7:1-3, 9-17 and 8:1

Now bring your mind and your heart back to this time, this place, this life. We have shown you a little bit of the map for this journey, as it was written by those who have gone ahead of us and as it was passed down to us. But the map shows us that our journey begins today, from this very hour and from this very minute. Let us go together in peace and love.

Have participants discuss their experience with this activity before moving on. If necessary, use some of the following questions:

  • Where is my spiritual life headed based on the choices I am making?
  • Where is my life connected to God and where am I missing the connection?
  • What do I need to do to get my spiritual life on the right track?
  • What kind of person am I becoming as a result of the steps I am taking in life?
  • What am I really doing with my life to grow and become closer to God?

IV. Activity #2: Falling into Faith

Time: 10 minutes.

Purpose: This is a final challenge: a trust fall. Trust falls are nice conclusions to group work because they reinforce the development of faith in God and God’s community, the Church. In this activity, participants rely on each other in a very concrete way that will challenge them on more than an intellectual level.

You need at least 8-10 people to do this safely and a chair. It is good to do this outside and on the grass as well, for extra protection. One person at a time stands on the chair with their back to the rest of the group. They should can have a spotter in front of them who will tell them when to go. They may or may not be blind-folded for the fall. The rest of the group lines up in two lines facing each other behind the chair/stool. They should extend their arms outwards to form an interlocking series of arms. They should NOT hold hand to hand but extend inwards to each other’s chest, so that they can catch the falling group member with the whole arm. Leave enough room for the falling member to clear the catchers’ heads! Have enough people shoulder to shoulder to catch the person from the knee to the head.

As each person ascends the chair, read them Psalm 23 and the prayer for one on a journey — after all, the end of this unit is just the beginning of their journey. Turn to them and assure them that they can trust in their fellows to catch their fall. Line them up to fall, tell them to call for a confirmation that the catchers are ready, then they can fall. Gently catch them and bring them to their feet. The process should sound like this:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want . . .

Then the following “Prayer before a journey” to be said for the person graduating from this unit:

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, the true and living way, be Thou, O master, the companion, guide and guardian of this your servant (N.) during his/her journey; deliver and protect him/her from all danger, misfortune, and temptation; that being so defended by Thy divine power he/she may have a peaceful and successful journey in this life and arrive safely in your heavenly kingdom. For in Thee do we put our trust and hope, and to Thee, together with Thy Eternal Father, and the All-Holy Spirit, we ascribe all praise, honor, and glory: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Check to see if the catchers are ready. Then say:

Now with no further fear, having completed this course of study, our brother/sister (N.) and fellow journeyer in this life, fall back into the waiting arms of your brothers and sisters in Christ.

When all have passed through, gather together and share hugs! If time is pressing, say the Psalm and the main prayer once for all participants.

If you have a very large group, you may wish to have multiple falling teams, especially if they worked in close and regular groups. However, if the group is large, you can create a long “tunnel of love.” To do so, continue the two lines and pass the person to the end hand by hand until the reach the end of the line, where they are propped up by the last few people to a standing position. This simulates rebirth after the spiritual journey of the study unit. This may be difficult with heavier individuals so you’ll have to adjust as necessary.

V. Activity #3: Gift-Giving Gossip Session

Time: 15-20 minutes.

Purpose: This activity provides each member affirmation of their own value as human being. These are accompanied by gifts that symbolize what participants received as part of their experience learning together. Those struggling for humility do not need praises but can and should accept gifts from those who love them. Therefore, the “praising” is done first in the context of a gossip session, where they get to overhear what their group members think of them. In this way, a person’s progress is affirmed without making this a feast for pride— they must patiently endure without response what the others say about them. After each person is affirmed, the group members then exchange the gifts they were told to bring last session. This also gives them a chance to “debrief” with candor and sincerity as an end to the unit.

For a small group, stay together. For large groups, split into smaller groups. Hopefully, they will have established regular groups already, if you have not assigned small group rosters.

Each person should take a turn sitting in the “hot seat.” This person has to sit facing away from the group and cannot say anything during their time there. The rest of their group then “gossips” about them by sharing with each other (so that the “hot seat” member can overhear) the positive things that they found about that person over the course of the session. Use the following questions as a guideline:

  • What did you find most inspiring about that person?
  • How did that person contribute to your spiritual growth?
  • What qualities do you think that person has that make them a good model for others?
  • What did you like best about your time with that person? How did that person improve your experience with this study unit?
  • How did that person surprise you or exceed your expectations in a positive way?
  • How was that person a gift to the group? What gifts did they bring to the group?
  • What would you like to say to that person to help encourage them to grow in the faith?

After each person has gotten a chance to sit in the hot seat (including leaders!), come back together as a whole group. Everyone should write their name on a small piece of paper and place it in a bag/box (preferably the bag/box used in session 4 activity #3). Each person then picks out a name other than their own, randomly. They then give the gift they brought to the person whose name they drew and explain what the gift symbolizes to that person. The gift should reflect something they got out of the study unit and/or their experience with the whole group.

VI. Session Conclusion


1. How are matters of life and death sign posts for us on the spiritual journey?

2. What is one thing that we can do after we leave here to help ourselves and others make the best decisions on life and death matters?

As you leave here, there is no better way we can advise you on your journey than with the words of St. John the theologian, known as the “Elder” in his third epistle:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth,

Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the Church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth. . . .

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. . . .

I had many things to write to you, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

VII. Closing Prayer

Unit Conclusion

Ask your priest if you can end the unit with a short Service of Thanksgiving asking for the strength and wisdom to grow toward Christ and His Kingdom. Have all participants fill out an evaluation form for this unit before they leave as well and send them to: Matters of Life and Death C/O The Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Orthodox Church in America, P.O. Box 675, Syosset NY 11791-0675.