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GOSSIP

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By Eva Kokinos

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this session is to illustrate that Gossip is not a Christian way to treat others, and is harmful and hurtful.

PREPARING FOR THE SESSION

  • Familiarize yourself with the scriptural passages and the quote from St. John Chrysostom
  • Print out copies of the bits for the opening activity
  • Print out copies of the quotes for the second activity
  • Make copies of the prayer for everyone to read together

OPENING PRAYER

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.
- Psalm 100

OPENING ACTIVITY

(Gossip: Guess the Situation)

Split the young people into three groups. Give each group a copy of a "bit". Then, allow the group or groups to guess what the situation is according to the story given. Have each group present what they think the issue is. After each group presents, share the real story.

BIT: "Hey, guess what? You know that pool party at my friend’s house I went to on Saturday? Well, I saw George’s girlfriend Cindy there. I heard some guy was all over her like he was going to kiss her. She didn't push him away or anything. I can’t believe it.”
What do you think Cindy was thinking?
REAL STORY: The person who spread this gossip was inside the house and then decided to leave to go home. The person missed what really happened. Cindy jumped off the diving board and hit her head. She was unconscious and was starting to drown. This “guy” happened to be a lifeguard during the summer. He was leaning over to give Cindy CPR and ended up saving her life.

BIT: “You will never believe what I saw the other day. You know that guy Charles from our choir? Well, I was walking out of the store and I saw him arm and arm with this guy. I’ve heard rumors about his sexuality, but I wouldn’t have believed it unless I saw it with my own eyes.”
What's up with Charles?
REAL STORY: Charles is a member of the choir, and he was arm-in-arm with an older guy. No one really knows Charles because they listen to all the rumors. But, what most people don’t know about Charles is that he volunteers at the Blood Bank. The man he was arm-in-arm just donated blood and was a little light-headed. Therefore, just to be safe, Charles was holding on to the man as he went out to the taxi waiting for him.

BIT: “Do I have some news for you? You know that crazy-looking guy Steve from school with all the body piercings? Well, I live in his neighborhood and I was passing by his house the other day. I knew that guy was trouble. I saw a police car at his house.”
What's up with Steve?
REAL STORY: Steve is definitely a different guy. He likes to wear gothic clothing, has nose, ear, and eyebrow piercings. He listens to a lot of hard rock music. But because he looks different, people don’t really talk to him. After all, he is a “crazy-looking” guy. Steve moved from a neighboring town when he was little. His father used to be a police chief at that neighboring city. The police officer who came to the house was a good friend of Steve’s father. After his shift, the police officer went over to Steve’s house for dinner.

STATE

(paraphrase in your own words)

The people in these stories all fell victim to gossip. Gossip is spread to anyone at anytime. Typically, gossip shows a part of someone's situation. It only shows a piece of the bigger problem. Gossip can be full of information about people that is private or sensitive. It can also be filled with untruths in order to make a story more interesting. I think it is safe to say we have all gossiped at one time or another. I am sure many of us have even fell victim to gossip.

DISCUSS

(accept all answers and reflect back)

  • What kinds of things do people gossip about?
  • Why do people gossip?
  • What are the results of gossip?
  • What does it feel like to fall victim to gossip?
  • Can gossip ever be good? Why or Why not?
    (This question will be interesting to spend some time on. Many young people may think the answer is yes...the answer is actually no, but don't reveal that yet…pose the question again later)

ACTIVITY

Split the young people into three groups of 4-6 people (if you have more you can give 2 groups the same quote). Give each group one of the quotes below to discuss. They must present back to the group a summary of the quote in a creative way.

Quote 1

Do not tell me, "I would be a slanderer only if I lied. I am committing no slander if I tell the truth." This is a grievous error. Speaking evil of others, even if the evil be true, is always a crime… You want to correct your brother? Weep, pray to God, warn him by speaking to his heart, advise and exhort him. This is how St. Paul acted. But backbiting and slander is so sweet, you say. Yes but NOT backbiting is sweeter still. The slanderer created deadly anxiety for himself; he is constantly besieged by suspicion and fear. He repents, but too late; he bites his tongue, but in vain; he trembles, for as his words spread they may cause him great danger and expose those who repeat them to enmities which easily could have been avoided.

Are you here to praise someone and raise him in my esteem? Then gladly will I give ear and savor your conversation. But if you intend to speak ill of someone, let me stop now; I cannot stand filth and stench. What have I to gain by knowing that someone is evil? Would I not be losing something instead? Talk to him yourself, and let us mind only our business.
- St. John Chrysostom

Quote 2

Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; With flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, And the tongue that speaks proud things, Who have said, "With our tongue we will prevail; Our lip are our own; Who is Lord over us?" For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, Now I will arise," says the Lord; "I will set him in the safety for which he yearns." The words of the Lord are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times. You shall keep them, O Lord, You shall preserve them from this generation forever. The wicked prowl on every side, When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.
- Psalm 12

Quote 3

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. "He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
- 1 Peter 3:8-17

DISCUSS

(accept all answers and reflect back)

  • How can we prevent ourselves from gossiping?
  • How can we prevent others from gossiping?
  • What are other ways we can stop gossip?
    • Ignore it… It might sound silly or too easy, but it’s effective.
    • Be polite to your friends and just mention you don’t want to talk about the gossip.
    • Make a stand… If you know something is not true, stand up against the gossip and be a true friend to others.
  • I ask again, is gossip ever good? Why or Why not?

WRAP UP

(paraphrase in your own words)

There is a story of a man who sold pillows made of very rare, soft and expensive feathers. To take care of the pillows, he puts them in a bag to prevent them from ripping or getting dirty during his travels. One day he was in a hurry and he left without putting the pillows in a bag. As he was quickly walking along, the edge of one of his pillows got caught on a tree and ripped open. The feathers began to come out of the pillow. Frantically he tried to pick them up but the wind started blowing and scattered the feathers far away from his reach.

So it is with gossip… a little bit can get scattered quickly making it difficult to take back. We are going to have a few moments of silence and I want you to think about the times you may have caused gossip to spread and the times you have been a victim to gossip.

Give them a couple of minutes in silence and close by stating the following:
Before we close in pray I want to leave you with the words of Jesus from Matthew 15:10-11: Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.

CLOSING PRAYER

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.
- Psalm 100