Covenant: God Brings the People out of the Land and to Mount Sinai

“Crossing the Red Sea” a fresco from Dura Europos, 3rd century


A lot has happened in our story since last week. Moses grows up, receives his call from God and hears the name of God from the burning bush: “I AM who I will be.” He and Aaron encounter Pharaoh again, and again, and again (and again…). Each time Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites are rejected, God sends a plague and Pharaoh’s heart becomes hardened. The tenth plague, death to the firstborn of every household but those marked with the blood of a lamb,  finally changes Pharaoh’s mind. For a moment. The Israelites flee with their unrisen Passover bread and Egyptian gold. At the Red Sea, Moses plants his staff in the ground and God parts the waters. The people of Israel walk to the other side on dry ground and Pharaoh’s army is drowned in the sea or left on the shore opposite God’s newly liberated people.  The people of God respond with dancing and a song (Exodus 15). You may also find this song, Canticle 8, “the Song of Moses” in the BCP.

will sing to the Lord, for he is lofty and uplifted; *
the horse and its rider has he hurled into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my refuge; *
the Lord has become my Savior.
This is my God and I will praise him, *
the God of my people and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a mighty warrior; *
Yahweh is his Name.
The chariots of Pharoah and his army has he hurled into the sea; *
the finest of those who bear armor have been drowned in the Red Sea.
The fathomless deep has overwhelmed them; *
they sank into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in might; *
your right hand, O Lord, has overthrown the enemy.
Who can be compared with you, O Lord, among the gods? *
who is like you, glorious in holiness, awesome in renown, and worker of wonders?
You stretched forth your right hand; *
the earth swallowed them up.
With your constant love you led the people you redeemed; *
with your might you brought them in safety to your holy dwelling.
You will bring them in and plant them *
on the mount of your possession,
The resting-place you have made for yourself, O Lord, *
the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hand has established.
The Lord shall reign *
for ever and for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

After all these things, God brings the people of Israel to Mount Sinai where God meets with Moses, and gives the people the Ten Commandments. Our lesson today focuses on the Ten Commandments, but you may want to fill you students in on some of the major goings on since our last class. Fortunately, our students should be quite familiar with these stories from their time in VCS.


Hear the Word

Read the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17.

P.S. We have student Bible Atlases in the Christian Education cabinet on the right, bottom shelf (labelled “older readers”). You can use these maps to point out Egypt, the Red Sea, and Mount Sinai.

Respond to the Word

1. Ten Commandments hand painting project (Exodus 20:1-17): To learn the Ten Commandments together, why not use your ten fingers?! On a large piece of paper, use finger paint to make a print of each hand. Once the paint has dried, think together of a simple phrase to summarize each of the Ten Commandments. Write your word or phrase on each of the fingers of your handprints. For example, “You shall not make for yourself any idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that  is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:2) may be shortened to “Make no idols”

2. Ten Commandment Stones: Read the 10 Commandments together (Exodus 20:1-17). Ask your child[ren] to choose one word from each commandment that speaks to them. Together, paint each word on a gray, paper stone (there should be enough gray card stock in the supply closet. You should have 10 stones in all. As you sit around the table or rug at the end of class, have each student pick one of the stones and discuss what it means to honor this commandment given to us by God.

3. Practicing the Sabbath (conversation or journaling): One of the commands that God gives to the people of Israel is that the people must observe the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-17; 35:1-3). God tells the people that the Sabbath is a sign between God and the people and is for their holiness! Sabbath practices remind us that the world does not belong to us, and is not sustained by our work, but by God. Sabbath is a practice of trusting that the world belongs to God.

Together discuss and reflect on Sabbath. Divide a piece of paper into two columns. On one side, create a list of things that you do each and every day. On the other side, write a list of things that you should and should not do during the Sabbath. Your list might include abstaining from homework or sports and engaging in prayer, fasting, contemplation, practices of thankfulness, or remembrance of all that God has done for us.

  • Why is it good for us to take a day of rest?
  • What things should we refrain from doing as “work” on the Sabbath day?
  • How do we worship God on the Sabbath?

4. Working with the liturgy:  During the Penitential Order, used during Lent and Ordinary Time, the priest recites each of the Ten Commandments and the congregation responds to each, saying “Amen. Lord have mercy.” Remind your students of this and practice together. Why do we begin our time in worship together this way? Why do we say Lord have mercy when it is not clear that each of us has broken all of the commandments?

5. Remember and work on your Moses songs: Check out the music suggestions from last week. Contact on the musicians and ask that they come and sing Pharaoh, Phraraoh; Go Down Moses, or Horse and Rider.

6. Work on one or more  of the Commandments in small groups: Divide your class up in small groups or partnerships to work on one or two of the commandments. Ask them to create an artistic depiction of following the command next to a depiction of not following the command. Then, have a conversation together of what God might want the people of Israel to be like. What does God want from us?

Close in Prayer and with a Feast


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