Note: It is recommended that the word document provided in the "related assets" below should be used when printing the Leader's Edition of the I AM series.
I AM Leader’s Edition with Instructional Notes
Title: I AM Session 6: I AM the True Vine
Age: 8 to 12 years
Liturgical Time: Any
Doctrinal Content: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1
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: The True Vine
What does a vine need to thrive? How is Jesus the vine of our lives?
5 minutes: Quickly review lessons from last week (I Am… the King; the Good Shepherd; the Way, the Truth, and the Life; the One from Above; and the Door). Be sure to fill in for participants who have missed any of the sessions.
15 minutes: Sketch activity and share drawings.
Sketch it out
Use the space provided to sketch all of the parts of a living vine. Make sure your vine fills as much of the page as possible.
Ask the participants to draw in their workbook a picture of a plant or vine, including all of its parts (this is very important). Have each participant share their drawing. Go over each part with them: the roots, the trunk or vine, the branches, the leaves and fruit. Ask them what would happen if one of the branches, leaves or fruit were removed from the trunk or vine. Ask, why would it die or wither away?
35 minutes: Have participants read the Bible passage below, then read through each of the parts of the vine. Have participants add to or change their sketches as needed.
John 15: 1-5
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing.”
Why do vines need strong roots? Roots help to bring nutrients to the rest of the vine. A plant without roots cannot survive. They also help to keep the vine firmly planted in the ground. If you’ve ever helped your family by weeding in the yard, you know that plants with very strong roots are the hardest to pull up from the ground. Christ helps us to stay firmly planted and protected. Listening to Him helps us to be strong when facing obstacles. Make sure your vine has a strong root system. What might our “root system” include?
Take a "field trip" with the participants, Have them look at the electric poles on the nearest street. Ask them what the difference are between the pole and the trees surrounding them. The electric/telephone poles have no roots. They could be easily uprooted; they have nothing to give them nourishment to still be alive, nothing to help them grow fruit or leaves. Highlight being “rooted” in Christ. How does this help us? A strong root system in the Church and Christ might include things like reading the Bible, learning prayers, attending services, etc.
Participants can sketch these parts of the roots.
The vine or trunk holds all of the parts together. The roots, the branches, the leaves and fruit all depend on the vine to keep them together and to deliver the water and nutrients throughout the plant. As you read earlier, Christ tells us that He is the Vine and we are the branches. He holds us all together through His love and attempts to bring us all closer together. Notice that as the branches get closer to the main stem or trunk, they get closer to each other as well. Be sure to label Christ as the main part of the vine in your sketch.
What is so special about the vine (trunk)? Why would Christ say He is the vine? The vine is a part of the roots and it is what keeps the whole plant together: the roots, the branches, the fruit and leaves… everything. How does Christ keep everything together? What is He keeping together? Add Christ’s name along the vine on the picture.
Read page 108 –109 The Vine Needs Branches, then follow with the passage below.
The Vine Needs Branches tells us more about why the vine needs the branches, just as the branches need the vine. A vine wouldn’t be much of a vine without branches. It also would not be able to grow fruit or flowers without branches on which these items can grow. Remember, we are the branches on Christ’s vine. He provides us with everything we need, and He expects us to “bear fruit.” What do you think we could do to be a fruitful vine that shows off everything God has given us? Add your family and friends to the branches of your vine.
We can live a life that shows other people how blessed we are to be part of Jesus’s vine. This might include attending services, being kind to others, following the commandments, etc. How is each of us like a branch on the Vine? Ask what the difference is between a vine that just grows (bears) leaves and one that bears leaves and fruit. What makes the fruit special? Have the participants add names of their fellow participants to the branches. They may also add names of family and friends.
Being a Fruitful Vine
Have you ever seen someone cut the branches off of a tree or bush, so that the branches grew back stronger and with more fruit or flowers? This is called pruning. It allows the plant to focus all of its energy on growing bigger and better branches with fruit and flowers on them. Read Secrets of Fruit Bearing to learn more about how we can be the most fruitful branches for Christ.
Read Secrets of Fruit Bearing beginning on page 110. Discuss as you read the passage. While Jesus loves us and knows that we may not be perfect branches, He makes it clear that we are expected to do our best. Branches that are not producing are pruned in order to allow those that are producing fruit to get the best nutrients. We need to make sure we are not “lazy branches”, expecting to get the nutrients without delivering results.
What fruits might you add to the vine you have sketched? Be sure to label them on your drawing.
Pass out the hand outs, Fruit of the Spirit. Discuss each fruit with the participants and indicate that these are the fruits that the Holy Spirit provides for us to use to be "fruitful".
Family Activity: Invite your participant's family to join you at a certain time. Conduct this activity provided by Orthodox Education Blogspot http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/2011/02/icon-family-tree.html
If you still have good weather, go outside and trim some pliable vines or branches (ferns work well!) If you find ferns, strip of the feathery leaves. Then you will want to wind the stem into a cross. Utilize some natural twine or decorative ribbon to hold the cross together.
Written by Natalie Kapeluck-Nixon and Kira Senadak
Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
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