Justice Journey 2021 || March || Module 2 || God of Justice

The following adapts and excerpts “Justice Journey for Kids” — a curriculum created by the Evangelical Covenant Church (available at: covchurch.org/justicejourney) — to be used as part of FirstPresKids Worship@Home while FirstPres Hayward continues to gather virtually. Any excerpts are in italics.

Each month of this 8-module curriculum will focus on a main theme that will be explored here, on an accompanying YouTube playlist and supported by our weekly Sunday 10am #FPKLIVE gatherings as well as monthly Storytime and StudioTime gatherings. Click here for more info.

Text: FirstPresKids Justice Journey 2021: March; Theme: God of Justice; Focus: God wants balance! Weekly Lessons: Injustice — Privilege, Injustice — Systems, What is God’s Shalom? How Brokenness Keeps Us From Loving Neighbors + Hurts Our World

Justice Journey, Part 2: God Wants Balance

This video has been created to be used with the weekly virtual lesson plans below. It is a Biblically based anti-racist and social justice curriculum that has eight learning modules. This video will cover one module and its themes. You can watch the video all at once or pause between scenes and use parts of the video with each lesson.

Week 1: Injustice-Privilege

Key Point:

Privilege is not something we earn, but results in an advantage others do not have. When we become aware of injustice that comes from privilege, we can work to put others ahead of ourselves as Jesus did.

Key Words:

  • Injustice: When something is unfair, resulting from privilege, or the sin of selfishness and oppression.
  • Oppression: Unjust treatment or control of others through unfair systems or laws.
  • Prejudice: Not knowing a person but mistreating them and believing things about them because of the color of their skin, gender, ethnicity, or where they are from.
  • Selfishness: Being concerned for one’s self or one’s own advantage.

Scripture:

Digital Resources:

Discussion Questions:

  • What is selfishness? What do today’s scriptures tell us about selfishness?
  • Have you ever seen someone left out because of how they look? What happened?
  • What are some privileges mentioned in the video? Or others you can think of?
  • What privileges do you have?
  • Even though we don’t choose the privileges we have, why do you think it is important to be aware of them?
  • Jesus invites us to love others like he does. We look out for other people, especially those who are left out or overlooked. Even though we do not always act like it, we are a family, people created by God in God’s image. We belong to each other, and Jesus tells us “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” We are all connected […] we are called to make sure no one is left out or mistreated. Can you think of a time when you may have overlooked or excluded someone else? How do you think this person felt? What could you have done differently?
  • How would Jesus want us to use our individual privileges? How do you think Jesus used his privileges?
  • How did the kids in the video put someone else’s interest ahead of their own? How could you practice that kind of generosity in your own lives?

Play/Do:

  • Did you know it’s just as hard to lose “Rock, Paper, Scissors” as it is to win? Try playing to lose, to put others first instead of yourself. While you’re trying something new, learn to play Rock, Paper, Scissors in Korean!

Art/Create:

  • Make this optical illusion “Humility Activity”:

Prayer:

Lord, all of us are your children and you love each of us. Help us to notice when we have an unfair advantage over someone else. Help us to be aware of our own privilege and to respond like you Jesus, to ask, listen, and learn from others and respond in love.

Week 2: Injustice-Systems

Key Point:

Privilege is not something we earn, but results in an advantage others do not have. When we become aware of injustice that comes from privilege, we can work to change systems and our response to create a fairer world.

Key Word:

  • INJUSTICE: When something is unfair, resulting from privilege, or the sin of selfishness and oppression.
  • OPPRESSION: Unjust treatment or control of others through unfair systems or laws.
  • PREJUDICE: Not knowing a person but mistreating them and believing things about them because of the color of their skin, gender, ethnicity, or where they are from.
  • SELFISHNESS: Being concerned for one’s self or one’s own advantage.
  • SYSTEM: A group of related parts that are designed to work in a specific way. Rules or laws for the way things are done.

Scripture:

Digital Resources:

Discussion Questions:

  • When people experience different treatment or advantages because of their identity, when things are not fair or aren’t equitable, that is injustice. What advantages did some groups on the videos have over others? What wasn’t fair or equitable in the videos?
  • Was this game fair? Did the people in the front row do anything to earn the advantage they had in the game? Was it wrong for them to sit in the front row? What should we do if we notice we have an unfair advantage in a situation? How could this game have been more just/fair for everyone?
  • Injustice is a lack of fairness, mistreating others, taking what does not belong to us, or making rules and laws that exclude and hurt people. Injustice is the result of sin, and it can create unfair advantages (privileges) in our world. Injustice involves taking something from someone — something they deserve or that God desires for them. Injustice includes stealing, such as taking something you did not earn, not properly paying someone for their work, or creating laws or rules that hurt some people and help others. What are some examples of injustice, unfairness or inequity you can think of in our society?
  • What is an unjust law? (Hint: ask yourself “is the love of God in it?”)
  • How can we apply what we know about what God desires for everyone, what Jesus teaches and what we know about privilege to our society? To our systems?

Play/Do:

  • Play the wastebasket game at home the way it’s shown in the video and then in a way that shows God’s justice.
  • Use paper to build a bridge. Notice what makes a structure stronger? We have “structures” in our society like housing, health care, schools, public transportation, etc. We can create a world where strong structures/systems exist so that everyone is successful.

Art/Create:

  • Download this coloring sheet or google your own quote about justice and make your own!

Prayer:

Lord, all of us are your children and you love each of us. Help us to notice when we have an unfair advantage over someone else. Help us to be aware of our own privilege and to respond like you Jesus, to ask, listen, and learn from others and respond in love.

Week 3: God’s Shalom

Key Point:

God wants everyone to live in shalom, balance or harmony — so that all have what they need. Loving people the way Jesus loves means seeing brokenness around us and partnering with God to address that brokenness. Living or doing shalom is working towards healing and being back in balance.

Key Words:

  • BROKENNESS: Separation, something that is no longer whole or complete, something divided and different from what God wants.
  • INJUSTICE: When things are not the way God intends. When something is unfair and people are mistreated because of sin, which causes selfishness, privilege or oppression.
  • PRIVILEGE: An unfair advantage available so some people, but not to other people.
  • SHALOM: When everything works how God created things to be. Shalom happens when we love each other well by restoring what is broken, creating justice and peace. It is a space where everyone can be who God created them to be, there is no need that goes unmet, and we praise God because everyone has what they need.
  • SIN: anything that is against God’s will.
  • SOLIDARITY: Standing together with someone or a group that is being mistreated to say that there is a better way, and that God is not pleased with what is happening. It is supporting our neighbors by standing up, speaking up, and showing up for those who are mistreated and hurt by injustice and oppression.

Scripture:

Acts 2:42–47

Digital Resources:

  • “Get Along, Gang: The Shalom Bayit (Peace in the Home) episode” — What is shalom?
  • “What Assumptions Do Kids Make About Each Other?” — in order to co-create shalom, we need to see others as God sees us — whole people, diverse, complicated, with lots to contribute, different strengths and struggles, all with a part to play in God’s shalom.

Discussion Questions:

  • What is shalom? (see above definition)
  • What did the members of the cartoon family in the video do to create shalom in their home? (sharing, compromising, realizing others’ needs, putting other people’s needs first, etc.) How can practice shalom at home? How can we use the idea of shalom outside our homes?
  • Last week we learned that sin causes us to think more about ourselves than others. God created enough good things to meet everyone’s needs, but not enough for everyone’s greed. Today we will talk about what it means to share what we have. This is not just something we do to be kind — we share because we are followers of Jesus. How did the followers of Jesus in the Acts scripture live this out? How did they create shalom?
  • What is brokenness? (Separation, something that is no longer whole or complete, something divided and different from what God wants.) What causes brokenness?
  • How do you know when someone is in need? When you see someone in need how do you feel? How do you think God feels?
  • When we talk to someone in need, remember they may be able to help us with something we are struggling with as well. Being in need doesn’t mean a person is any less knowledgeable, any less gifted, or any less loved by God. How can everyone be a part of co-creating shalom? How can we resist making assumptions about people who are in need?
  • Think about a place where you see people in need — perhaps they are hungry or don’t have a place to live. Do you know anyone in your church, school, or neighborhood who does not have enough (warm clothing for the winter, food to eat, or a place to live)? Make a list of the places that you see people who are in need, and if you happen to know their name, write that down too. Ask God how you, your family, and your church might be able to help people who are in need. Write down a prayer for them.
  • Sometimes we see people who are hurt or in need and we don’t respond. What could we do to become more aware of the things that are happening around us? How could we respond? (love in action, not ignoring/learning more about injustice and suffering, name injustice and wrongs, pray (lament, intercession, listen) Which of these ways will you partner with God in doing this week?

Play/Do:

  • Practice seeing the shalom, the wholeness in you, your family, in the people that God created by “finding” feelings. Which feelings will help us co-create shalom? God created humans and all human emotions (even if they seem bad or scary), it is how we act on our emotions that leads to brokenness. We may not (nor should we be) “perfect,” but we are whole! Which emotions make it hard for you to live out God’s shalom? Which ones cause us to create brokenness instead of heal it?Play along with this feelings scavenger hunt:
  • … or use this playlist of videos to name as many feelings/emotions as you can:

Art/Create:

  • One way God speaks to us and makes us co-creators of shalom on earth is by giving us visions and imagination for what is possilbe. Use this “Making Space: Possibility” tutorial or create your own artistic representation of what God’s shalom looks like:

Prayer:

God, help us to love people the way Jesus loves. Help us to see the brokenness around us and partner with you to address that brokenness so that everyone can live in peace. For this we give you thanks. Amen.

Week 4: How Our Own Brokenness Keeps Us from Loving Our Neighbor and Hurts Our World

Key Point:

Because of our own brokenness, there are unfair systems in our world. These broken systems help some people (privilege), while harming others (oppression). These systems lead to injustice. They create poverty, privilege, and sometimes even death. Christ calls us to see these broken systems, pray about how we should respond to the injustices they create, and then work to fix the brokenness. We cannot do this on our own — we need the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Key Word:

  • BROKENNESS: Separation, something that is no longer whole or complete, something divided and different from what God wants.
  • INJUSTICE: When something is unfair, resulting from privilege or the sin of selfishness or oppression.
  • OPPRESSION: Unjust treatment or control of others through unfair systems of laws.
  • PRIVILEGE: An unfair advantage available to some people, but not to other people.
  • SHALOM: When everything works how God created things to be. Shalom happens when we love each other well by resorting what is broken, creating justice and peace. It is a space where’re everyone can be who God created them to be, there is not need that goes unmet, and we praise God because everyone has what they need.
  • SIN: Anything that is against God’s will.
  • SYSTEM: A group of related parts that are designed to work in a specific way. Rules or laws for the way things are done.

Scripture:

Digital Resources:

Discussion Questions:

  • We often say that everyone has an equal chance to succeed. But some systems are in place in our society that do not allow for equal access, which leads to some people being unjustly advantaged (privileged) and others being oppressed. Can you think of an example?
  • What sinful laws or systems does Pharaoh put into place because he is afraid of losing his power?
  • How are the Hebrews oppressed by Pharaoh’s laws and systems?
  • How does Pharaoh’s sin and brokenness grow and become law? When someone’s sin becomes a law — that an entire society must obey — that sin becomes “systemic,” which means it becomes part of the system. When sin becomes part of the system, the system becomes broken. It becomes an unsafe place that harms certain people, gives unfair advantages to other people, and goes against God’s will.
  • How hard is it to do what’s right when a law or system is unjust and everyone else around you ignores the unfairness?
  • Can you think of ways people have been oppressed in our country? Our community?
  • In the Acts story, what was the problem?
  • Did you know the same thing happens for some children here in the U.S. and Canada?
  • Did the apostles ignore the needs of those without food?
  • What was their solution? (In the New Testament one out of every sixteen verses is about the poor. In the Gospels, the number is one out of every ten; in Luke’s Gospel it is one out of every seven, and in James, one out of every five. God cares for those who are poor and for those who do not have equal access or who are oppressed because of unfair systems.)
  • Using the stories of Henry’s Freedom Box and Ruby Bridges, discuss: what are the injustices; how could they be fixed; how did people respond; how did or could Christians respond?
  • If you were Ruby, how would you have responded to the crowd?
  • If you were one of the students at the school, what do you think you would have done? Do you think you would have been brave enough to stand up for Ruby?
  • If all the other children were being mean to Ruby just because of the color of her skin, would you have the courage to be different, to stand up for justice — even if it meant you might lose some friends? What would Jesus do? What could happen if we don’t respond? What could happen if we do?

Play/Do:

Following Jesus means confronting injustice and responding in nonviolent ways that reflect the love, grace, and justice of God. When injustice and oppression occur — and when other people go along with it or turn a blind eye to it — Christians cannot just do what’s popular or follow what everyone else is doing. As God’s children, we are called to do what’s right and to stand up for justice, even when it’s lonely, unpopular, or costly. When we partner with God to work for justice, people around us might not understand why we are doing what we are doing, but the Bible assures us that this is what God wants us to do. As Christ’s hands and feet in the world, what are we supposed to do now?

Commit to and practice DOING, BEING Christ’s hands by finding a way to do one or more of the following:

  • Jesus loved people in sacrificial ways. Consider what this looks like:

Top 10 Heroic Sacrifices in Disney Movies

This is for fun, but think about the choices and sacrifices you make everyday while you play this or that:

  • Jesus listened. How might we listen to both the dreams and the needs of someone else?

Practice your listening skills by playing this virtual bop it game!

Art/Create:

  • Jesus used what he had to help others, instead of using it for his own advantage. What could this look like for us?

Learn to crochet, knit or sew and make scarves, hats or blankets to give to unsheltered neighbors:

Make protest art to use your voice to help others:

  • Jesus went out of his way to love people who felt overlooked, unloved, and left out. He helps all of us realize that we belong to each other and that we are all a part of one family, the household of God.

Go out of your way to share a loving message with someone overlooked, unloved or left out by making one of these cards:

Prayer:

God, help us to not forget who we are, whose we are, and who you have called us to be. Every person in the world is equally made in your image, and we are one family. When our family is mistreated, overlooked, or hurt, help us to go out of our way to show them your love. Amen.

Written by Lauren Gibbs-Beadle @firstpreskidshayward Children’s Ministries @firstpreshayward | educator, creative, parent | she/her