This one encourages youth to engage in the soul-searching and identity discernment that Jesus did as he wandered the wilderness. Give each youth a sheet of paper that says "Who Am I?" at the top and the unfinished phrase "I am____________" down the side of the page 8 or 10 times. Invite the youth to take some quiet time to fill in the blanks with words, phrases, ideas that describe their identity. Should they need a bit more structure, you could give them prompts such as: "Use the first blank to describe yourself physically. In the next blank, describe yourself emotionally. Now describe one of your gifts or talents. Next, describe yourself spiritually." When they are done, invite the youth to share their poems if they feel comfortable.
One Step Forward, One Step Back
This is a simple, straightforward activity to help the youth understand some important facts about the season of Lent. The group lines up across the middle of the room and the leader asks them a series of questions (you can use the ones below, or add others as you see fit). Those who get the answer right, take one step forward. Those who get the question wrong take one step back. The winner is the first one to cross the finish line where the leader stands.
- The official (liturgical) color of Lent is red. True of False? (False. It’s purple – representing royalty and repentance.)
- Lent lasts for 40 days, not counting Sundays. True or False? (True.)
- The word Lent comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “midwinter.” (False. It translates “springtime” since that is the time of year the season generally falls.)
- The 40 days of Lent are a reminder of the Bible story in which Jesus spends 40 days alone in the wilderness and is tempted by the Devil. True or False? (True. It also recalls the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.)
- Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, when people often have the sign of the cross made of ashes placed on their foreheads. Most often, these ashes are made by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service. True or False? (True.)
- The ash is supposed to represent the story in which Jesus places dirt or ash on a blind man’s eyes to make him see again. True or False? (False. The ashes represent humility and our own mortality – from dust we came and to dust we shall return.)
- Many people give up something during Lent. The point of this practice is to show your willpower. True or False? (False. It is a practice of self-denial that allows room in your life for God to do something new.)
- Fasting is a common practice in Lent but the one day people don’t fast during Lent is Sundays. True or False? (True. People traditionally do not fast on Sundays as Sundays are to be reminders or a foretaste of the coming resurrection.)
- The phrase “Glory to God” is traditionally never spoken during Lent and does not make its return until Easter morning. True or False. (False. “Alleluia” is the what many churches abstain from saying in worship during Lent.)
- The last week of Lent is known as “Holy Week.” True or False? (True.)
- On Maundy Thursday, the last Thursday in Lent, we recall the last night and meal that Jesus shares with his disciples. True or False? (True.)