I decided to split James into two themes: on the first day, I focused on the scripture masteries, and on the second, we did a review type lesson. This worked pretty well.
We spent a few minutes doing our scripture sort. Then I gave an introduction to James, based on at least some of the reading. I kept feeling that I needed to leave out an account of his death. Repeatedly. So I did. Not sure why that had to be leftout. But I did.
We read the scripture mastery passages aloud (James 1:5–6 and James 2:16–17), and I asked a couple of questions relating to them. Is James speaking truth? How do you know? How do you think you might use these scripture mastery passages? On a mission? When tempted? When in trial? When confused?
On the board I wrote the following imaginary letter from the manual.
Dear Friend, I am afraid you are not Christian because you do not accept Jesus as your Savior. You believe that you need to do righteous works along with having faith to be accepted by God. You are deceived! Works are not necessary if you have faith and believe. The grace of Christ makes works nice, but unnecessary. Please turn from your errors, accept Christ, and do not rely on your works to save you. Only then can you have peace. Your friend in another church.
I asked the class to imagine they had just received this letter. Respond back in writing to your friend. I asked them to be sure that the tone of their letter did not take an aggressive or contentious tone. Why is it necessary to treat those with other beliefs kindly? How can we speak the truth in love? The students really got into writing their responses, so I decided to give them a little extra time and have them share their responses first thing the next day.
As I mentioned before, students were really into their letters yesterday, so I gave them time to finish them up at the beginning of class. Several students had been absent when we wrote our letters, so I had them work on their sort while the others wrote for 4-5 minutes. Then I went around the room and students read their letters aloud. One opted out of reading her letter. No problem. We commented on what was working well in the letters and what kind of reaction each letter might get from a friend. It was a useful, if fairly disjointed discussion.
Next we read aloud James 1:22–25. What is a forgetful hearer? In Mississippi we have some sayings that relate to this scripture: “you’re talking out both sides of your mouth” and “that boy is a lot of talk and no action”. A more familiar one is “you can’t just walk the walk, you gotta talk the talk”. Good discussion. The lesson was getting better….
I explained to the class the idea from the manual that you can think of James as a To Do List for Doers of the Word. I passed out a little To Do handout I made and had kids look over the entire book of James as they wrote themselves a little To Do list. I walked around and commented on some of the things people were writing. They did a good job. I had asked the kids to look for patterns so that we could identify the main themes in the passage, but the kids were working so diligently on the lists (and the blessed sound of pen-scribbling was so nice after the flap-jaw of the previous 35 minutes) that I let them work on their lists until the end of class.
Strong finish while speaking of the importance of being doers of the word. Phew. I felt very nearly redeemed.
The manual mentioned that Joseph Smith really loved the book of Peter, and it kind of made me laugh. When I read Peter in my lesson prep, I immediately thought of Brother Joseph. Peter sounds just like him.
Anyway, after a short introduction to the material, I put the kids in a circle and we did Hey There Delilah plus What did you Underline with a slight twist. Some of the passages were difficult to interpret and may not have much to underline, so I told the kids that whey they read they could choose from one of the three following actions. They could:
The J(enny)ST is when you take a text and explain it in your own words.
I did this activity because it’s been a while since we did this kind of activity, and the text was really well suited for it. At first I had this broken up by sentence (some sentences in the text are multiple verses long, which makes for difficult reading for some kids), but I ended up going for a slightly more topical approach. I had some leeway with the last few scriptures depending on time and how many kids showed up, but we didn’t get finished anyway. Here’s how I broke up the readings:
After we read and discussed 2 Peter 2 :3-5, I talked to the kids about how they were building a spiritual house, founded on priesthood. Now, it was random, but while preparing for this lesson I had the strongest impression to show that old movie “My Holy House“. I think it’s probably on the New Testament DVD, but the second DVD in my set doesn’t play, so I had to find it online. I got it off YouTube.
Anyway, I played the video, and afterward we discussed some of the symbolism of the things that happened in the movie. This went WAY better than I could have hoped.
I had kind of felt that the movie was a little bit of a stretch for the topic and nearly dropped it, but for whatever reason, the spirit moved on me and I showed it anyway. God, FTW.