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 8: I AM the Light of the World
Age: 8 to 12 years
Liturgical Time: Any
Doctrinal Content: Jesus Christ is the Light of the World! If we follow Him, we shall not walk in darkness.
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
One Votive Candle per family
One taper candle per participant (and one for each family member of that participant)
Where does Christ’s light shine in our world?
How do we make sure that we let the light in?
15 minutes: Introduce the theme of the session with the Bible verse below. Ask the participants what would be different if there was no light. No sun, no electricity, no candles, nothing. Ask what types of lights help people in the dark (encourage them to think in bigger picture, stars, light houses, runway/landing strips at airports, etc.).
Have the participants sit at one end of the room. Ask them if they have ever been afraid of the dark. How did they feel, what made or makes them feel better? Tell them “At one time or another, most people are afraid of the dark. We wonder what is hiding in the dark, and it makes us feel insecure or unsure of ourselves. We can’t make this room totally dark, but we can close our eyes to symbolize being in the dark. Keeping your eyes tightly closed, see if you can feel your way all around the four sides of the room and back to where I’m standing. When you make it back to me, I’ll tap you on the head and you can open your eyes. Don’t peek before I tap you, or it won’t be like walking in the dark!
Let the participants walk slowly around the four sides of the room, feeling their way as they go. Remind them not to peek. When each person makes it back to you, tap him or her on the head and say, ”Open your eyes and let the light shine in!”
When everyone has been tapped, have participants sit down and ask: How did it feel to try and find your way in the dark? Were you unsure of where to go or how to get there? Why? How is this like trying to find our way in life without Jesus Christ?
10 minutes: work through the next few sections highlighting that the darkness is not a place we usually like to be, and it is harder to navigate.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Being Without the Light
Being in the dark is a little scary in many ways. We may become lost and even end up getting hurt. It’s the same when we’re in the darkness of sin. We become lost and hurt ourselves. When we’re in the dark and without the light of truth we can’t find the right way to God. We need light!
John 3: 19
And this is the _condemnation_, that the _light has come into the world, and men loved_darkness rather than light_, because their deeds were _evil_. For everyone practicing evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed . But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done_ in God.
5 minutes: Read through the following section and Light and Life and Light and Health in the book. Highlight the fact that light is essential to the life of plants and animals.
Finding the Light
We need a special light to shine away the darkness of sin, but what kind of light does this? You need to be close to the base of a lamp if you want to be in its light. Jesus shines His light of truth, love, and forgiveness into our hearts and lives. Light and Life and Light and Health help us to learn more about the importance of Light in our lives.
10 minutes: Have participants follow the same course around the room as before, or if short on time just have a few demonstrated. Read through the following section and Light Guides and look up Bible verses.
The Light that Guides
Try traveling around the room again with a flashlight. A lot easier this time, right? Whether we’ve been to a place a hundred times, or never before, having light to guide our way is always helpful. Light Guides tells us that Christ is the Light that provides guidance in our lives at all times. Whether we’ve faced a problem many times before or are facing it for the first time, thinking about the guiding Light of Christ helps us to follow the right path.
At this point, all participants will proceed to the church building. Invite the parents to join you for this section of the session. There will be a special votive candle in front of the Icon of Christ. Each participant will be given a taper candle and a votive for their home. If family members are unable to join you, have instructions ready to send home with the candles. Have any participants without family members conduct the activity with you as you are their spiritual family.
Say to the participants: (From page 43) You are Lights “ He who lives with Christ not only has light but also becomes light for others. The same Jesus who said, “I am the light of the world.” also said, “you are the light of the world.” It is not our light. It is Christ’s light that is reflected in our lives as the moon reflects the sun.”
Ask each participant to come up and light his or her candle from the votive in front of the Icon of Christ. As they are doing this, ask them – “Is the flame of your candle any different from that of the flame on the votive candle?” The flame is almost exactly the same: it is not the original flame but it was made from the original, just like you. Continue from the book, “True, compared to Jesus our light may be only a candlelight, but it is still light. It still shines and provides light in the darkness. Thus we may say that the light of God shines in:
- The Savior: “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12)’
- The Scriptures “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105)’
- The Saints: “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
In a world where men create hatred and dark things, surely it is part of our responsibility as God’s children to be lights in that darkness, lights which cannot be put out. By your actions, living like Christ, how many people might be able to see the light, who might have never had the opportunity without you? Look at your candle, is it a steady flame? No, it flickers with the wind. Wind is like life: we are tested, but the closer we are to the way Christ wants us to walk in His path, the stronger our flame will be and the brighter the flame for all to see.
St. Peter tells us, “But you are a chosen a holy race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
Read paragraph four from page 44.
Give each family one of the votive candles. Instruct the families to light the votive together with their tapers when they arrive at home and place it in their icon corner. They are working together to shine the light of Christ brighter and stronger. This candle will be taken to their cabin and kept on the front porch as light in the darkness. Before they leave, read them the fable on page 45.
How can we act as lights in the world, guiding others closer to the light of Christ?
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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