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For The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

By Sally Ulrey

Key verses: Psalm 139:13, 23

For you created my inmost being…Search me, God, and know my heart…

Objective: To help youth be authentic and true to who God made them to be by examining
the masks we wear and why. To see ourselves and others as God sees us.
The Set up: Minimal

The Plan:
 Hook: Create your Mask (15 mins)
o Creating masks that represent the face they want the world to see
 Book: God sees through the Masks (10 mins)
o Explore Psalm 139 and look at the ways God sees past the masks we show
 Look: Taking off the mask (15 mins)
o Processing individually and in small groups how we can be more authentic in our relationships
 Took: Mirror Image (10 mins)
o Practice seeing ourselves and others as God sees us
The Supplies:
 Copy of lesson
 Bibles
 Printable Mask Templates (get some here: )
 OR Masks (like these:
297441105261&keywords=clear+face+masks&qid=1551815243&s=gateway&sr=8-5&tag=googhydr-20 )
 Stuff to decorate masks: Paint, markers, glitter/glitter glue, etc.
 String to tie mask on
 Hole punch
 Scissors
 Table cover
 AV Equipment
 Copies of Small Group Questions

The Preparation:
 Cover table and set out art supplies
 Set up AV Equipment and cue videos
 Print out or order masks

“Masks” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta
Create Your Mask (Hook, 15 mins)
In this section, youth will think about what they are trying to portray to the world that is different than who
they really are. They’ll create a mask to represent how they want to be seen.

 Pass out a mask template to each person.
 The outside (the part they will show to the world), they are to decorate it symbolizing how they want
others to see them, what they want to show to the world.
 The inside (the part they would put on their face) should be closer to the truth about how they really
are…not too harsh or too puffed up…just as close to the truth as they can get. They don’t have to show
this to anyone.
 Give them time to create some symbolic artwork on their masks

Transition: Most of us wear masks because we are afraid to be vulnerable. Masks that hide who we really
are, are like armor…we feel that they protect us from others’ scrutiny. But they also stop us from being truly
known and truly seen. Thankfully, God truly knows us and truly sees us….

“Masks” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta
God Sees Through the Masks (Book, 15 mins)
In this section, we take a look at Psalm 139, which talks about how God sees every aspect of our beings.

 Go around in a circle and have each youth (who opts to) read a verse until all the verses are read

Psalm 139
You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

Large Group Discussion Questions

 What do you think it means that you were “fearfully” made? (Talk about how fearing God in the Bible is
about being reverent, and that God was reverent about creating you!)
 How does it feel to know that God was fearful (reverent, careful, took it seriously, knew God was doing
Holy Work) when creating YOU?

Transition: You were formed with a loving hand, and every aspect of your being is so loved by God. One of the
things human beings most long for in life is to be fully known. And God knows us fully. And loves us
completely. When we rest in that knowledge, it’s easier to take off the mask and be our true selves with
others, because whether they accept us or not, God accepts us…and maybe being authentic would actually
start a revolution of authenticity!
“Masks” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta
Taking Off the Mask (Look, 15 mins)
In this section, youth will start to explore what it looks like to take off their masks. One of the things it takes is
knowing you who are and that God knows and loves you completely, and that our identity rests in God, not in
what others think. You can use the book “You are Special” to illustrate what it looks like when we care what
God thinks of us more than what others think, or tell your own story that illustrates that same idea. Then the
youth will discuss what it looks like to be authentic and show their true selves.

Instructions (15 mins total):

Part 1: Illustration (8 mins)
 OPTION 1: Tell a personal story illustrating when you took off a mask of what you were trying to
portray to others and made yourself a little more vulnerable and real because you could rest secure in
the knowledge of who you are in Christ, and valuing what God thinks of you more than what others
think of you made it easier to be more authentic. Be sure to hit on the idea knowing God loves you
made it easier to be more real.
 OPTION 2: Read (or show the video:, 8:21 mins)
the story of “You are Special” by Max Lucado. This story illustrates the real-life effect of prioritizing
what God thinks of you above what others think, and how that makes it easier to “just be you.”

Part 2: Small Groups (7 mins)

Put youth in groups of 3-4.
 What is an obstacle to taking off your “mask” (what you want everyone to see you like) and just being
your true authentic self?
 If you’re willing, share something on the outside of the mask you made (something you want people to
see in you) and then something from the inside of the mask you made (what you’re really like) and
how they might be different, and why?
 If the things you wrote on the inside are or could be good things, why are we afraid to show them?
 According to the illustration, what do we need to do in order to be able to take off the mask? What
would it be like and feel like for you to do that?
(answers may be something along the lines of spending time with God, resting in God’s love for us,
caring more about how much God loves us than if others like us)

 LEADER TIP: One nuance is that being authentic doesn’t mean we have to show everything about ourselves to
everyone…there’s still something to be said for others having to earn our trust. So you may want to talk about what
it looks like to be authentic and yet not obligated to try to be everyone’s best friend. Part of what that may mean is
that we can feel freedom not to fit into others’ molds or expectation…we can be who we are instead of who others
want us to be.

Transition: Spending time with God and reminding ourselves how much God loves us will help us be more
authentic. Remembering that God created us with a loving hand, uniquely, and wonderfully, and
fearfully/reverently will help us celebrate who we really are. And we can help others see themselves as God
sees them. That’s one of the things we can do for each other to make the world a better place…we can hold
up a mirror to others and show them how wonderful they actually are. We can ask God to help us see them
with God’s eyes, to see past their masks, to their beautiful souls, and then we can reflect back to them the
beauty we see in them that God put there! Here’s an example of what that might mean….
“Masks” by Sally Ulrey
for the Diocese of Atlanta
Mirror Image (Took, 10 mins)
This section will help youth realize that they can be the mirrors for others to see themselves as God sees
them. We can be the ones that sees through other people’s masks and reflects to people who they really are.
We can help others see themselves with love, as God sees them.

 Play the video of the Dove commercial with a police sketch artist: (3 mins)
 Summarize that the way people saw themselves was more negative than how others saw them (we put
on masks because we want others to see us more positively, but we tend to see ourselves more
negatively. And one of our deepest longings is to truly be seen, but putting on masks sabotages that…
we are kinda silly that way…)
 Point out how much it meant to the artist’s subjects that others saw them more positively (and more
truly… others’ descriptions actually looked much more like them than their own descriptions).
 Challenge them to see other people’s God-given beauty…not just physically, but spiritually. And when
you see that, be the mirror for them. Reflect to them the good things God created in them. That is
such a gift.

Close in prayer, asking that God would give us eyes to see ourselves as God’s beloved, and to see past other
people’s masks to who they really are, and that we would be able to look at people as God looks at us…with
unconditional love, and with eyes that see the good things God created in us, asking God to give us strength
and courage to reflect back the good things we see in others to them, so they would know God’s love for them
and God’s beauty in them. AMEN!

“Masks” by Sally Ulrey

for the Diocese of Atlanta

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