Chosen: God’s Covenant with Abram & Sarai

Sunday School:  Session D

Hear the Word:  Genesis 12:1-9, Genesis 15:1-6; see also Hebrews 11:8-12

The story of Abram and Sarai unravels over twelve chapters of Genesis.  I’ve chosen two key moments in the saga, but feel free to use other texts within the narrative.  Older students may want to delve further into Genesis 15 to see the terms of the covenant, or into Genesis 18 to see how the story continues.

Find a rhyming version of the story, great for reading aloud, here.

Story Bible texts that include this story (available in the CHF library) include:

The Jesus Storybook Bible

The Children of God Storybook Bible.

Overview:  In Abraham and Sarah, God binds God’s-self to humanity.  He chooses particular individuals through whom to bring life and redemption to the whole world.

Objectives:

(1.)  Children will tell the story of God’s covenant with Abraham and Sarah in their own words.

(2.)  Children will articulate God’s promise that through Abraham and Sarah, “all the nations of the world will be blessed.”  (Gen. 2:15)

(3.)  Children will understand that a covenant is, “a relationship initiated by God, to which a body of people responds in faith.”  (from BCP catechism) 

Activities:

(1.) Puzzle Hunt:  Divide your class into two groups, and give each group a blank puzzle (in SS supply closet), markers, and a verse.  (Appropriate verses include, “The LORD said to Abram: ‘Go from your country and your kindred … to the land that I will show you.'” and “in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  Ask each team to decorate their puzzle with their assigned verse, then to hide the pieces in a dedicated area.  Then, get each team to hunt for the other team’s puzzle.  Whichever team finds all the pieces and puts together the puzzle first, wins!

(2.)  Covenant Scrolls:  Use dowel rods and long paper to make a scroll.  (Let me know if you plan to do this craft so that I can have necessary supplies ready.)  Get the children to re-read the scripture text, then have them write the terms of the covenant (that is, what each party pledges to do) on the scroll.  They could write in the first person:  “I, Abram, covenant to…” and “I, the Lord, covenant to…”  Get the kids to include as much detail (and illustration) as they are able to.

(In the Ancient Near East, kings commonly made treaties with one another.  God’s covenant with Abram binds God to Abram and Abram to God, just as kings bound themselves together through treaties.  Gen. 15:7-21 shows each party passing through the carcasses of animals, so as to say, “May what happened to these animals happen to me if I do not keep the terms of this covenant.”)

(3.)  Watercolor stars:  Punch stars out of watercolor paper (we have two large star-shaped punches in the supply closet.  Provide the kids in your class with watercolors, and encourage them to populate a large piece of black shelf paper with painted stars.  Write God’s promise to Abraham on the paper, too.  (“He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord; and the Lordreckoned it to him as righteousness.” Gen. 15:5-6)

(4.)  “Hurry up and wait!”  Abraham and Sarah heard God’s promise, and believed that God would be faithful.  But, they did not immediately see God’s faithfulness.  (The letter to the Hebrews describes their patience here.)   Ask the children in your class to share a time that they waited for something.  Ask them to imagine how hard it must have been for Abraham and Sarah to have faith even as they grew older and remained childless.  Go outside and play “red light, green light” (or “stop” and “go”) as a way to imagine Abraham and Sarah’s constant “going”and their constant waiting.

(5.)  Through the desert:  (Ahead of time, hide notecards with the words “Haran,” “Canaan,” Shechem,” “Bethel,” and “Egypt,” in the garden behind the nave.  For younger children, “hide” stones to represent altars.)  Abraham and Sarah journeyed over a great distance in faithfulness to God’s call.  Each time they came to a new place and found God there, Abram built and altar.  Get the children in your class to read Genesis 12 and to make a list of all of the places that Abram and Sarai went.  Then, send them to “visit” each of the places to which Abram and Sarai journeyed, and ask them to bring the hidden cards or stones back to you.

(6.)  Crayon rubbings:  God blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son in their old age. Provide cardboard cutouts for stencils of adult and children. (Ask Wren to provide these ahead of time.) Have the kids place a piece of paper over the cardboard stencil and rub the side of a crayon over the paper to make a crayon rubbing. Have kids make two adults, representing Abraham and Sarah, and one child, Isaac. On the back of the paper, have the kids make a crayon rubbing to represent the adults and children in their family. Encourage children who can write to print a Bible verse and the names of Abraham’s family on one side of the paper and the prayer of thanks and their own family’s names on the other side.

Conclude with prayer.

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