Where is God when we go through difficult times in our lives? This is a hard question for adults to answer. It’s even harder for young people, especially when they do not have much life experience to help them understand what they are experiencing—such as the death of a family member, being left out by friends, or failing at something they’ve worked hard to accomplish.
Jesus said, “I am with you until the end of time” (Matthew 28:20). For many of us, this is comforting. But for young people, Jesus’ reassurance is not readily understood. Yet, it is probably one of the most important concepts we want our students to understand if they are going to rely on their faith to help them through the difficulties they face throughout life.
Because young people today are very much a visual generation, how can we “show” that Christ is with them in the good times, the bad times, and all those times in between? Making I-am-with-you-always bracelets—which can be adapted for any age group—will help students understand the presence of Christ in their lives.
(for each bracelet)
* 6 strands of yarn in different colors (red, black, green, yellow, white, blue), 18” long
* 1 strand of thick silver metallic cord, 24” long
* a cross or heart
1. Read or have a student read Matthew 28:16-20.
2. Invite the group to share stories about times when they felt Jesus was not present in their lives. (You may want to get the discussion started by sharing a personal experience.)
3. Give each student 6 strands of yarn and explain each color (red=anger; black=fear or loss; green=growth and life; yellow=joy and happiness; white=faith; blue=peace).
4. Give each student a silver metallic cord, which represents Jesus.
5. Have students assemble I-am-with-you-always bracelets by following these steps:
* Align strands of yarn and secure them together at one end by tying an end of the silver cord ½” from the ends of the yarn. This is the “top” of the bracelet for now.
* Fold the top ends of the yarn over to where the silver cord is tied and, again, secure the ends there with the cord, leaving a loop of the silver cord at the top just large enough for the cross or heart to pass through.
* Divide the yarn into three groups of two strands each. Include the remaining length of the silver cord with one of the groups.
* Braid the yarn to a length that will comfortably go around the wrist.
* Tie an overhand knot securing the braid.
* Cut remaining yarn (not the silver cord) ½” below the overhand knot.
* Use the silver cord to attach a cross or heart to the bracelet, close to the end of the braid. (This will go through the loop on the other end to hold the bracelet on the wrist.)
* Trim the silver cord close to the cross or heart and secure with a drop of glue if desired.
For an image of a completed bracelet, CLICK HERE
With their bracelets complete, ask students if they can always see the silver cord. They will answer “no.” Explain that, through all the laughter and tears, joy and fear, peace and war, and love and hate that fill our lives, Jesus is always with us even though we may not feel him—just like the silver cord in the bracelet isn’t always visible.
If time and supplies allow, let your students make a second bracelet to give to a friend.
This is a great activity for the beginning of the learning year. It is also a great way to emphasize how Jesus is present in our lives. He is with us in the Sacraments, at Mass, while we visit those who are sick or home bound, reach out to help others, etc. Students can take I-am-with-you-always bracelets with them, being reminded that, no matter what, Jesus is present in their lives.
Margaret Stripe is a member of Holy Family Catholic Church in Ontonagon, MI. She teaches a special class in journalism to sixth graders at Sacred Heart Catholic School in L’Anse, MI, where students produce a monthly newsletter that is distributed to a tri-parish community. She has been in the ministry of faith formation for over 25 years.