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I AM Series Leader's Edition 1B: A King

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I AM Leader’s Edition with Instructional Notes

Title:  I AM Series: Session 1 Who Do You Say I am?  I AM a King

Age:  8 to 12 years

Liturgical Time:  This first session is appropriate for the feast of the Nativity, or any.

Doctrinal Content:  Many people knew that the prophets had foretold the coming of a man, the Messiah, who would be the King of kings.

Direct Aims:  The I AM series aims to help young people understand their relationship to Christ and to others based on the I AM statements.

Indirect Aims:  An additional aim is for young people to understand specific ways that they may emulate Christ.

Materials for the Lesson Plan:
I AM Participant Workbook
Orthodox Study Bible Bible
No Man Ever Spoke as This Man: The Great I AM’s of Jesus by Fr. Anthony Coniaris
Handout (Appendices):  St. John the Baptist
Handout (Appendices):  Prophet Jeremiah
Handout (Appendices):  Prophet Elijah
Note Cards
King Costume

Lesson Plan:
Who is Jesus? How do we make sure that He is the king of our lives?

Ask an adult or one of the participants to become King of your town. For example, King Pittsburgh. Tell them that you will ask them to join the group at some point. Their entrance should be made into a big deal. Give them the opportunity to interact with the group, all the while acting very "royal" (making demands, assuming people will go out of their way for them, expecting the best, etc.). Allow your King plenty of time to prepare for this; ask them to play the role well before the session begins.

10 minutes: Activity: Introduce yourself as the leader and invite the participants introduce themselves to the group. Begin with this simple and fun activity to introduce the theme.

1 Pick one name for each person playing. Don't let any of the players see the names until the game starts. The names can represent real people you know, celebrities, animated characters, storybook characters, historical figures or political personalities. There are endless possibilities, but keep in mind the age- and group-appropriateness of the choices. Don't make them so obscure or difficult that people give up.
2 Stick one label on each person's back. Do not allow him to see the name before you put it there.
3 Tell everyone the rules. Each person gets 20 "yes or no" questions to find out who she is. For instance, she can ask, " Am I real person?" "Am I a male?" "Am I alive?" "Did I invent something?" "Am I in a current movie?" and so forth. The questions cannot be either/or questions like "Am I male or female?" The players have to roam around the room to ask other people the questions. Tell them they can't ask only one person all the questions; the point is to mingle. Whoever guesses correctly first wins the game. No hints are allowed, unless everyone is stuck and can't figure out who they are.
4 Vary the game by using the names of objects instead of people and characters. If everyone is enjoying the game, make a second set of tags and play again.

Once complete, have participants read through the following paragraph to introduce the general topic.  Conduct a short discussion comparing their opening activity to what they read.

As you may know, this year’s theme is “I AM!” The lessons in this workbook will help us to learn more about this theme. Throughout His time here on Earth, Jesus told His followers about the many ways He can be involved in our lives. He is the Door, the Bread of Life, the One from Above, the Light of the World, the Good Shepherd, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the Resurrection, the True Vine, the King, and the Alpha and the Omega. He gave us these examples to help us to know that God is always with us and to help us to see His guiding hand in everything we do. The lessons in this book often ask you to look for further information in No Man Ever Spoke As This Man: The Great I Am’s of Jesus. These passages are written in italic print.

5 minutes: Read the first two sections on page 5 of No Man Ever Spoke As This Man entitled “I Am” and “The Timeless God.” You may want to read these passages yourself this time, but can ask to read in the future. Then read the brief I Am! Passage below and ask participants to write an answer to the question at the end.

I Am!
The first two passages in the book “I Am” and “The Timeless God” help us to learn more about Jesus’s words in John 8:58. “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’” Why did He say I am and what does this phrase tell us about Jesus?

5 minutes: Read through the passage below, including the verses from Matthew 16.

Who Do You Say I Am?
We know that Jesus is God, but at the time when Jesus was here on Earth, not everyone was sure of who Jesus was. His followers, the disciples, tried to teach others about Jesus, but not everyone believed them. Some people were confused and wondered how Jesus could be God and man. Some people, like kings and emperors, were angry because their subjects listened to Jesus and the disciples instead of them. Other people believed that Jesus was actually other more well-known religious men. Take a look at the verses below to see who people thought Jesus was.

Matthew 16:  13 – 17
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but My Father who is in heaven.”

15 minutes: Break participants into three smaller groups. Assign each group one of the names listed below and distribute the information sheets about each person to the assigned group. Have each group jot down important details about each man, which they will share with the rest of the class. Participants should write down information shared by each group.

What do you know about the men the disciples named in this passage?

John the Baptist: Cousin of Jesus, baptizer of Christ, Prophet, one of the most well-known saints
Elijah:  The Glorious Prophet, his name is translated “God is the Lord,” God revealed Himself through Elijah many times, taken to heaven in a chariot of fire
Jeremiah: Prophet, name means “the one whom God appoints or exalts,” promised hope for those who remained faithful to the Lord.

10 minutes: Allow participants a minute or two to brainstorm answers to each question below then discuss as a group.  At this time have King City arrive, so that he has time to interact with the participants.

Why do you think people might have confused Jesus with these men?

Participants may have many answers, but be sure the conversation addresses the idea that these were well-known, holy men, and that it was easier to believe that Jesus was a holy man than it was to believe that He was God. They also did not have the internet or even photography at the time, so many people truly would not know these men to see them, and they based their understanding of people on words and descriptions alone.

Why did Jesus ask the Disciples who they thought He was?

Be sure the conversation addresses the fact that knowing about incorrect information that is being taught helps us to avoid it in the future. He wants the disciples to be aware of what the people are saying about Jesus so that they can do a better job of teaching the truth.

10 minutes: Have participants begin by making two lists of characteristics, one of King City and one of Jesus. Then read through the following section and paragraph on page 119, beginning with “But it is obvious that…” then answer the question that follows.

I am a King
Many people also thought the Messiah, Jesus, would be a king coming to save them from the rule of evil leaders. They knew that the prophets had foretold the coming of a man who would be the “king of kings.” Jesus is our king, but He did not come to sit on a throne and rule a kingdom here. Read the last paragraph of “…I am a King” on page 119.

What kind of king is Jesus?
Ask them if King City was more like the King page or the Jesus page? Why? How was he different? What are the differences between the King list and the Jesus list?

10 minutes: Talk to the participants about how we can treat Jesus as the king of our lives. Read the next two sections, then have participants answer the follow up question.

Philippians 2: 10-11
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Obeying the King
Even though Jesus is not a worldly king, we are told that we are expected to obey Him like one. Every King has an army. His army swears to follow whatever He tells them to do. In what ways can we treat Jesus like He is our king?

Pre-reading the entire “…I Am a King” section in the book (pages 119-123) will provide additional answers to guide the participants. Especially in the older grades, conversation may gravitate to the idea that a good king is someone for whom you make sacrifices, and who does the same for you. Jesus sacrificed His life for us, what do we sacrifice to make room for Him in our lives?

Read to them page 121 Whose King?  Stop at the section where they give the explanation of why we cross ourselves.  Tell the participants that whenever we do this we are putting on our armor and re-pledging our loyalty to our king.  Skip the section concerning the Nazis.

Wrap up your session with a meal or fun activity.

Notes for this Session: All though this session is placed first, you may want to rearrange and have it fall during the Nativity season. In this way, you can tie in the birth of The King of Kings.  Hold an additional discussion based on the Nativity scripture readings.

Certain topics to touch upon:

  • Why was King Herod threatened by the possibility of a new king?
  • What type of king were the wise men looking for?
  • How did Jesus show us what type of king he was going to be based upon his birth?

An additional activity for this lesson:  Stained Glass Icons
Materials for the Activity:

  • Ink Jet Printable Vellum (available at Amazon)
  • Icon Line Drawing of the Nativity (available at drawings/)
  • Colored tissue paper
  • inexpensive paint brushes
  • modge podge or clear drying craft glue

1. Print the desired line icons on the vellum. Provide them a few hours to dry completely before use.
2. Cut up the tissue paper into small shapes (based upon the icons you chose). Place each color in a small zip lock bag for storage. Various shades of the same color will be helpful.
3. Have the participants choose their icons. They may begin gluing the appropriate color tissue in the correct places. You should do at least two layers of tissue to ensure that the entire area is covered.  Allow sufficient time to dry.
4 (optional). Place the stained glass icon in a frame. The best effect is to allow the sun or a light to shine through. You could purchase two picture mattes per icon and glue them together with the icon in the middle or purchase a "hanging" frame that does not have a back but is two pieces of glass. You may also laminate or use contact paper to ensure the icon does not lose its tissue. It provides a nice finishing touch.

The Glorious Prophet and Forerunner John the Baptist
Saint John the Baptist was a monk and a great prophet, who baptized Jesus and became one of the most well-known saints in the Orthodox Church. Saint John was a cousin of Christ through his mother Elizabeth. Because he baptized Christ, Saint John is the patron saint of godparents.

Saint John was born six months before Jesus. As a young man, he lived a very simple life in the woods, wearing simple clothes and eating what he could find in the land.

As an adult, Saint John started to preach in public, and people from many places came to hear his message. The main idea of Saint John’s preaching was that people needed to keep their lives focused on God, to repent and ask forgiveness when they lost their focus. Many people came to hear him speak near the Jordan River, and he baptized thousands of people there.

The fame of Saint John reached the ears of Jesus, and he came from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized by Saint John. Once Jesus had been baptized, Saint John did not need to prophesy, or tell people about what would happen when Jesus came, because He was there! He did continue to speak to people, telling them about Jesus and what he had seen. Many people continued to come to Saint John, which made the king of the land very angry. They were listening to Saint John, not the king.  Jesus himself said great things about Saint John, saying that he was a "burning and a shining light" (John 5:35). Saint John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, and he saw Jesus during his lifetime.

Prophet Jeremiah
Commemorated on May 1

The Holy Prophet Jeremiah, one of the four great Old Testament prophets, lived 600 years before the Birth of Christ. He was called to be a prophet when he was only 15 years old. God told Jeremiah that even before Jeremiah was born, He had chosen him to be a special prophet. At first, Jeremiah told God he could not do the job because he was too young and didn’t know how to be a prophet. God promised to always be with Jeremiah and to show him the way. He touched the mouth of the chosen one and said, “Behold, I have put My words into your mouth. Behold, I have appointed you this day over nations and kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to rebuild, and to plant” (Jer. 1:9-10). From then onJeremiah prophesied for twenty-three years.

His words were not always popular. He often had to remind the Jews that they had forgotten about God and weren’t listening to Him anymore. They were worshipping idols and praying to fake gods of water, earth, and sky. He told them about bad things that would happen, such as war, because people had turned away from God. Jeremiah prophesied anywhere he could, such as the temple, the city gates, and in the street, but the people made fun of him and sometimes even hurt him because they didn’t like his messages.  He was even thrown in jail.

Throughout his life, Jeremiah would warn his people about the bad things that would continue to happen if they chose to ignore God. Unfortunately, many of these things happened because they did not listen to Jeremiah. Yet Jeremiah continued to teach the people that if they turned back to God and asked for forgiveness, they could live a wonderful life again. Although many ignored Jeremiah, there were people who followed him during his life.  After his death, people were healed at his grave site.

The glorious Prophet Elijah, also called Elias in Greek, is a prophet of the Old Testament. His name has been translated in several ways like "God the Lord," "the strong Lord,” "my God is the Lord," and "the Lord is my God." His feast day is celebrated on July 20.

The first time we hear about Elijah in the Bible is in 1 Kings, when he was asked to deliver a message from God to Ahab, the harsh king of Israel. He told King Ahab that there would soon be a time when there would be no water in his kingdom. After he delivered his message, God told Elijah to go to a hiding place near a brook called Cherith. Elijah relied on ravens who brought him food to eat while he was living there. When the brook dried up, God sent him to a city called Zarephath, where a woman who owned a small store took care of him for two years. While Elijah was living there, the woman’s son died, but through the power of God Elijah was able to bring him back to life (1 Kings 17:2- 24).

During same time that Elijah lived in Zarephath, there was a famine. This meant that it was so hot and dry that people were unable to grow food and their animals became sick. People were very hungry. One day Obadiah, one of King Ahab’s officers, met Elijah in a field. Elijah asked him to tell King Ahab where he was and to send him to Elijah. King Ahab came and blamed Elijah for the famine. The people believed that the “god of storms,” Baal wasn’t taking care of them anymore and the King said it was Elijah’s fault. Elijah knew that God was on his side. The people wanted proof of which God was stronger.

The people built two stacks of wood, one to make a sacrifice to Baal and one for Elijah to make a sacrifice to God. Each group would ask their God to light the stack of wood on fire for them. The people who worshipped Baal prayed all day long, but nothing happened. Elijah had the people pour four buckets of water on his stack of wood, and then he asked God to come and show Himself to the people. The stacks of wood caught on fire! Many people stopped believing in Baal and began to believe in God!

Elijah went on to travel to different places teaching people about God and His power. He traveled through the wilderness, often eating very little food. In some cases angels visited him and God sent him small bits of food to eat. God gave him knowledge to prophesy about what would happen in the future.

Later in his life, Elijah anointed a man named Elisha to be his helper and follower. They spent time together and Elijah taught Elisha many things. When Elijah knew that it would soon be time to leave the earth and go to God in heaven, he told Elisha, who was very upset. He would miss his friend and teacher and was worried about what he would do without him. Elijah took Elisha on a long walk to talk about what would happen and to give him encouragement. He even showed Elisha the power of God by using his mantel (which is like a scarf or cloth he wore around his shoulders) to part the waters of a river. As they walked they were suddenly separated by a chariot and horses of fire; and "Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." As Elijah rode into heaven, his mantel fell down to Elisha.

Additional Resources
Fight the Good Fight by Gigi Baba Shadid
Light of the World

Icons in this curriculum provided by Archangel Icons. Additional icons of the I Am sessions may be made available by them at their website:

Line Drawing
Most line drawings contained within are available from the Department of Religious Education, Orthodox Church in America.

Fruit of the Spirit Tree provided by Crafting the Word of God.

Written by Natalie Kapeluck-Nixon and Kira Senadak
Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA