Session 1: The Living Icon: The Sanctity of Human Life
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . . .”
Aim: This session introduces the foundations of Orthodox anthropology in an accessible manner to teens. Almost any discussion about life and death choices in today’s society depends on a person’s concept of the human being and the human relationship to God. While the dehumanization of people as a result of a materialist mind-set has led to an immense spiritual toll today, the solutions presented by other confessions have failed. This is often due to a lack of Orthodox “humanism” which affirms the sanctity of human life and our special place in God’s creation. In this unit we reaffirm the basic lessons of the Church, that God loves us and that we are not to take human life carelessly. It is also important that participants, who may often be surrounded by false notions of God and His love for us, find out what the Church really teaches about life and death.
Objectives: By the end of this session, students should be able
1. To articulate the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life and its biblical foundations;
2. To identify when they themselves are not living up to the image of God within themselves by acting and thinking in a way that is adverse to God’s plan for us.
3. To begin the sharing of experiences and communicate with openness in small groups.
4. To prepare a family tree for use in later sessions and personal prayer life.
Useful texts: Genesis 1:26-31
Philokalia, Vol. IV, pg. 205 (Nikephoros the Hesychast)
Balloons — at least one per person
Example of a family tree
I. Opening Prayer
III. Activity #1: The Church on Human Life
IV: Activity #2: Balloon People
V. Activity #3: Prayer of the Heart
VI. Activity #4: Family Tree
VII. Session Conclusion
VIII. Closing Prayer