Something for the older children...
Idea for a Skit Describing Jesus' Choice in the Garden of Gethsemane
We know that Jesus choose "thy will," but what was the alternative going through his mind and prayer when he said, "take this cup away from me?" What did Jesus mean when he said "not my will"? What was "his" will (his options?)
It may be unsettling to think about it, but it is also honest. Jesus had a choice. He was not God's puppet. His pain in Gethsemane was as real as it was on the cross. Libraries have been written trying to figure out the inner-play between Jesus' human and divine nature. Suffice to say, we don't fully understand it, but we do understand the importance of having a real choice. If loving obedience is going to be real, it cannot be forced.
What was Jesus upset about?
He had previously said that he would be raised from the dead. Did he doubt that? Probably not. But we know the disciples didn't understand it. Jesus was probably afraid of being arrested, beaten, put on trial and put to death. Who wouldn't? Obedience doesn't inoculate you from emotions. He was probably hoping God might say something, or come up with something to help him avoid the coming pain, not only for himself, but probably for his disciples and family as well. We don't know how long he entertained that hope of another way, but it speaks volumes to the humanity of Jesus, and the love of God --who through Jesus felt both the pain of death, and abandonment. In Jesus Christ, God is not only forgiving us, God is saying, "I understand what it feels like to be you."
In this skit idea, there is a large rock at center stage with a spotlight on it. Prop rocks are easy to make. Just turn a couple of big brown paper LEAF bags inside-out and overstuff with newspaper. Paint the bags grey. They can be stacked or taped together with duct tape. Why a rock? There's no rock mentioned in the Gospels, but the area around Gethsemane is a rocky hillside. Tradition and artistic tradition grew up that Jesus prayed on the "rock of agony" which is the site where the Church of All Nations now stands. The rock is an apt metaphor for a place of difficulty. Literally, Jesus was between a rock and a hard place, his choice regarding obedience.
Two groups of students work with a team leader to write up 4 different "prayers" they will present at the rock: Two things Jesus might have said or asked that night in Gethsemane, and two things God might have said in response to Jesus at the rock that night. This will produce a total of eight "rock" skits from the two groups. This group work is not easy. Encourage teachers to lead, not dictate. Discuss some possibilities and write some suggestions on 4x6 cards, then hand the card to a student to "fill out into 3 or 4 complete sentences" that a student can "perform at the rock." Go over what gets written and help improve it before performance time. (One of the reasons to do this in two different groups is to get a variety of responses.)
The two prayers about, "things Jesus might have said to God." Questions, suggestions (pleas), to change God's mind about what was about to happen to him (the arrest, trial, and death). Why did he have to go through such a painful death? Was there another way to bring forgiveness? How was this going to affect his family and disciples.
The two prayers about, "things God might have said to Jesus in his prayers that night at the rock." Answers to why Jesus must be sacrificed. Assurances that it God's plan was working, ...that it would change the disciples and the world. Assurances that God was going to be with him every moment. etc.
Perform: At the teacher's direction, students will walk to the rock, and act out their prayer. Go up in twos, one standing in for God and the other for Jesus at the rock. This will go by rather quickly.
Life Application Step:
In the following "rock" activity, students will act out "my" and "thy" choices while praying at the rock.
Ask: When I say, "Jesus' choice that night models obedience to us," what do you think I mean?
Say: All of us face important choices every day. To be kind or mean. To tell the truth or lie. To help or pass by someone in need. To stand up for someone being bullied, or keep quiet. To do your homework or watch tv. To act like Jesus is your Lord, or to act like Jesus is just a story.
What big decisions have you made this week? Today? (to come to church)
How do you make important decisions? Do you weigh the cost? What are the costs of some of the decisions I've mentioned (say them again).
Say: We're going to split into our two groups again, and this time, you're going to fill out your cards with examples of two kinds of obedience for each situation I'm going to give you. The two kinds of obedience are: (1) Being obedient to God's will, what God wants you to do, and (2) Being obedient only to yourself, what you want to do.
Students take each situation, and write "skits" on their card to perform at the rock. They must come up with two skits for each situation they choose to perform: a "my will" and a "thy will" (God's will), skit. The skits can be the person talking to God about the situation, weighing their options, and making a decision. One version of the skit should end with a "my will" (selfish) outcome. The other with doing what's obedient to God.
Situations that can be addressed:
Somebody who's been saying bad things about you at school just walked by. Unbeknownst to them or anybody but you, a $20 bill fell out of their pocket and at your feet.
You have been asked to join a soccer team that plays its games every Sunday morning for 10 weeks at a time, twice a year.
A good friend of yours is really upset because in a week, they will be moving to another school across town (their parents are getting divorced). Your other friends are saying they won't miss your friend when he/she is gone.
Sitting in class, a student that other people think is gross, walks in and drops a stack of paper all over the floor.
Someone in your church fellowship group is doing some bad stuff to other people at school, but they act normal at church and are a good friend to you at church.
You believe you should pray to God every day, but you have never developed the habit. Your Sunday School teacher suggests you start by getting your family to say "grace" at the table, but some in your family think it's "dumb."
Feel free to come up with new ones.