Hear the Word:
Exodus 3:1-15 (Consider continuing with Exodus 4 to learn how Moses responds to God’s call.)
(Storybook Bible versions of this story will be set out on Sunday.)
Take a few minutes to recall last week’s lesson, the ways that God bound God’s-self to Abraham and Sarah’s family.
During this week’s lesson, we jump all the way from Genesis 18 to Exodus. Take a moment to remind the children in your Sunday School class about Moses’s origins (Ex. 1-2): that he is a relative of Abraham and Sarah. As it is age appropriate, help the children understand that the Israelites had been enslaved by the Egyptians.
In Getting Involved with God, Ellen Davis explains: “The essence of the gospel is heard already from the burning bush: God has come down to holy ground to deliver us and to bring us up to a land of promise” (45). In the story of Moses’ calling, we see a God who comes down and reaches out to humankind. God (or God’s messenger) is present in the burning bush, and Moses turns aside (Ex. 3:3), he wonders about the burning bush. God sees that Moses turns aside and God calls out to Moses. Beginning with this encounter, Moses and God embark on an intimate friendship, by which, Israel’s history is forever changed.
(Also, Davis notes the beautiful association that the Greeks have long made between Mary, mother of God, and the burning bush. Here are a few examples. Davis writes, “Mary, who carried God in her belly and later in her arms, yet did not dissolve to ash – she is herself the bush that burns perpetually, yet is not consumed”46).
(1.) Students will be able to retell the story of the calling of Moses.
(2.) Students will describe God as the one who comes down to deliver God’s people.
(3.) Students will speak of Moses (and perhaps also of themselves) as someone called into friendship with, and so service of, God.
Two themes you may choose to explore in this week’s class include:
(a.) God surprises Moses as God calls him: All of us, and especially children, love to be surprised, don’t we?
Possible questions for discussion: How is God “a God of surprises”? Has God ever surprised you?
Where do you find God in those who are very different from you? Keep your eyes open— I wonder where God will surprise you next!
(b.) God’s name – Recall that Jews do not pronounce the name of God, except on the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest utters God’s name. Discuss with your class the importance of names. Invite them to consider why Jews have so long considered God’s name unutterable.
Jewish tradition maintains that God’s name is spoken as a breath; inhale “Yah”, exhale “Weh”. One thought issuing from this tradition is a connection between God breathing life into humankind (Gen. 2:7), and the life we maintain as we breath; as though, without our realizing it, we say God’s name, sing God’s praise with every breath.
The most likely translation for the name God gives Moses is, “I will be who I will be.” Some scholars understand this as an invitation to be surprised by God. Certainly, humankind continues to be surprised, even shocked by God’s choice to come to us in Jesus.
(1.) Act it out: Find a script for a skit here, or use the scripture text and write your own script. Act it out and consider recording it to watch at the end of class or next week. The first part of the linked skit (the exercise with emotions/reactions) is a great activity to engage kids 1st grade and younger with the story.
(2.) Burning bush art – Of course, on the internet, ideas for this abound. A few options include a simple drawing/cut-paste activity for young children, 3-D Art rendition of the story, paper plate versions.
(3.) Receiving a call (game): Play telephone, but with key verses from the story (like Ex. 3:3). After a few rounds of the game, talk about how clearly God spoke to Moses from the bush.
(4.) Serpent-headed Throwing Stick: This is a fun activity from the book Old Testament Days that you could start this week, and finish as we continue with the story of Moses and Israel in the coming weeks. We’ll have at least 12 wooden spoons on hand. Let me know if you think I should get more.
“Boys from wealthy Egyptian families learned to throw a special stick that was designed with the head of a snake. As a boy, Moses probably spent many hours practicing with his stick trying to hit a target. Skillful hunters used these sticks to hunt birds.”
Materials: Wooden spoons and acrylic paint.
Directions – Paint the spoon head a solid color. Paint the handle with stripes. Stand the spoon up in an egg carton to dry. When it is dry (perhaps next week), paint the head of a snake on the back side of the spoon. Add designs on the handle. Set up targets and practice hitting them with a stick.
(5.) Burning bush snack: Broccoli and shredded cheese make a fun, story-themed snack.
Conclude in Prayer. If you need another prayer idea, consider “The Clapping Song.”
The Clapping Song
This is all to a simple tune and everyone claps along. At each ______ the next person at the table adds something they are thankful for. You sing the stanza with three _____s and “right where you are” as many times as it takes to let everyone participate.
Thank you God for giving us_____________
Thank you God for giving us_____________
Thank you God for giving us _____________
Right where we are.
(repeat above as many times as necessary)