Covenant: Samuel Anoints David

Illumination depicts Samuel anointing David. France, c. 1270 – 1280, Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment

Introduction

This weeks introduction gives you some of the historical background on the text and on Israel’s move into the monarchic period. You may choose to share this with your class, but it is a tad complicated (especially for younger children) and you may decide instead to focus on how God calls David to be a leader in Israel. Quick aside: I really wish we could do the stories of Hannah and/or Samuel this week because they are so wonderful, but we must move a bit more quickly than that.

In this week’s lesson, you already begin to see our move toward Advent, as we jump ahead to the establishment of Israel’s monarchy. After their time wandering in the desert (we will revisit this story for a bit in Lent), Israel finds itself located in its own land, the land that God promised. It is, however, almost continuously under threat from other groups and peoples. Two things happen to move Israel toward the establishment of a monarchy. First, beginning in Judges, we hear the repeated refrain, “there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own sight”; in short, the people are straying from who God wants them to be (or from the Law as received and given to the people by Moses). Second, Israel’s existence is consistently under threat from the Philistines; Israel’s loose confederation of tribes is threatened without some organized power structure and response. The second of these reasons is related to the first, as it is often noted by historical writers that Israel’s existence is under threat because the people (and their leadership) stray from God’s favor. In other words, when they are in God’s favor, they are victorious in battle, and when they are outside of God’s favor, they lose battles. The establishment of the monarchy, however, is not entirely positive. Indeed, at some points, is is portrayed as a rejection of God’s direct rule (in favor of a different ruler) over the people.

As we have seen in various other texts, God chooses (through Samuel), David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons to be anointed as king. Such a selection is contrary to expectation that the oldest male would receive this privilege. From the time of his anointing, the Spirit of the Lord is upon David (as an aside, the portrayal of David in 1 Samuel is pretty idealistic. We remember him as a person after the heart of God, the youngest selected to remedy the evil spirit in Saul and lead Israel with faithfulness, and the writer of the Psalms (though David did not, in fact, write most of the Psalms as these were composed and compiled over hundreds of years). 2 Samuel’s account of the Davidic monarchy offers a more nuanced and complicated picture. David takes advantage of Bathsheeba, sends her husband Uriah to his death, and neglects to respond to the rape of his daughter Tamar by  his son Amnon. These details don’t need to be shared with the children (though they are likely familiar with the first two), but it is important to avoid valorizing David entirely since our picture of David in Scripture is more mixed than our children’s Bibles, and our story for this Sunday demonstrate.

In our text for today, 1 Samuel 16:1-13, the Prophet Samuel anoints David while Saul is still king. From this point forward in the story, David rises to power as Saul falls from the seat of control. This story can cause us to wonder what God will make of these people. Does God’s promise still rest with the people? Does it come through David? In Matthew’s genealogy, it is clear that Christ is of David’s line (Matthew 1:6). Despite all of the conflicting ideas about the rise of the monarchy in Israel and despite the conflicting stories of David in 1 and 2 Samuel, here, it seems as though God has a plan for this people. Even before the exile and the hope of the Messiah how is God’s promise unfolding for the people of Israel and all the world?

Hear the Word: 1 Samuel 16: 1-13

Read the Story of the Prophet Samuel’s anointing of David. You may choose to read or tell this story directly from the Biblical text.

Respond to the Word

1. Artistic Intertext: Spend time looking at one of the following images: the illumination shown above, this fresco from Dura Europos, or this image. After reading the story of David’s anointing, share some of the details that stand out to you. Then, spend some time talking about the images. What does David look like? Does he seem like a simple shepherd boy or more like a king? What makes him look like one of these things? Is there a quality about David that makes him seem like a good king, or was God’s selection random? Invite the children to discuss which of the images they like best and then which image is most like the story as it is written. What makes the images similar to and different from the story?

2. What about the others?: Discuss some of the features that this story may share in common with other stories in the Bible. It seems as though God or another character has favored or selected younger siblings over older siblings in many of our stories (Abel over Cain, Jacob over Esau, Isaac over Ishmael, Joseph over his other brothers, etc.). Why does this seem to be the case? Why does Samuel (with God’s direction) select David  over Jesse’s other sons? How do you think Jesse’s other sons responded? What about Jesse? Wonder together about this theme. What might it say about the work of God?

3. Paper figures: Have your students illustrate an image of each of Jesse’s sons (there are seven, including David). You can find most of their names in our text.  Also have them illustrate livestock, Samuel, and Jesse. Cut each of the figures out and have yours students use them to retell the story. You can find a visual and some additional directions here.

4. David Icon: Many of our significant Old Testament Matriarchs and Patriarchs are considered Saints of the Church. Here is an icon depicting Saint David the Prophet and King. What details of the picture tell us something about David? Discuss what makes David a Saint of the Church and ask students to share some of the stories about David that they know. Is there something about David that makes him a Saint or something about what God does with David that makes him a Saint? After talking about his life and witness for the church, invite your students to write their own icon of David. They can depict any of the stories about David they know, including the story of his anointing. Or, they can make and image of David with symbols that remind us of his importance for the church and witness.

5. Liturgy Connection: Talk together about what it means that Samuel anointed David. The children may be most familiar with anointing from the liturgy. After someone is baptized, they are anointed with oil. Oil is often used when someone is commissioned, called, blessed, or given a charge. Reflect together on this significance and what it might have meant to David to be anointed. Then, set out small dishes of oil and roll up the children’s sleeves. Cut out pieces of the thick, brown building paper we have and give students a chance to practice anointing the paper. You can ask them to imagine that they are anointing a real person and giving them an important task. Then, on another sheet of paper, draw images or symbols from the story on the paper. This can be messy, so in classes with younger students, ask them to get ready to use these materials. Demonstrate some of the different shapes they can make and remind them that less is more. You may want to use some of the extra t-shirts in the supply closet to cover their clothes and use the sinks in your class to wash hands right after their activity.

6. Tending the animals Game: David was out tending the animals when his father was asked to summon him. It seems that Jesse was pretty sure that David was not going to be selected by Samuel! On slips of paper, write down animal names (sheep, cow, horse, etc.) and “David.” Then, Select one child to be Jesse. Send Jesse out of the room while all of the other children select a slip of paper. The children spread out throughout the room. Then bring in the blindfolded Jesse and place them in the middle of the class. When you start the game, all of the children should make the sound of their animal. Jesse needs to find David in the crowd of animals. If Jesse touches on of the characters they must tell him if they are David or not. When Jesse finds David, they game starts over with David playing the new Jesse.

Close with Prayer and a Feast

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

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

Introduction

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

Covenant: God remembers the people in Egypt/Moses is taken out of the water

Coptic Icon: Moses is drawn from the Water

Introduction

Last week we saw how things started to go down hill for God’s chosen people. At the end of Genesis, God’s people are in Egypt. Joseph dies and is embalmed in Egypt, buried far from the land that God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As he dies, Joseph tells his brothers that God will bring them up out of the land of Egypt (Genesis 50:24), but as we know this does not happen for some time. In Egypt, the people of Israel expand in numbers and new king rises to power in Egypt, a King without all of the strong ties to Joseph and his family (Exodus 1:8). Because of the Hebrews large numbers, this new king is concerned about the Hebrews strength. He sets taskmasters over them and they make bricks–they go from being valued guests in Egypt to being slaves.

In the story we are tracking, we have seen how God has gradually entered into covenant relationship with the Hebrew people.

Moses is such a fascinating character and so much happens in his life. It can be tempting to move through the whole story this week (especially with how quickly we are making our way through the Old Testament at this point), but for this week, focus on the first two chapters of Exodus. In them, we learn why the Hebrew people are enslaved, we learn also about the subversive behavior of two Hebrew midwives–Shiphrah and Puah–who save many of the Hebrew children from certain death under the king’s orders (1:15-21). In chapter 2, Moses is born, his mother hides him for as long as she can. Then, in what may be one of the most hope-filled acts, she lines a basket with bitumen and pitch, and sets her son among the reeds (2:3) with his sister standing by to watch. I wonder what she thought would happen. A flowing river (perhaps teeming with Crocs and Hippos) is not the first place one would want to leave an infant. And yet, she does. When Pharaoh’s daughter draws the child out from the water, she gives him his name (pay attention to names in the book of Exodus; they are very important!), Moses.

Take a moment, to notice several things about this text. In it, women–midwives, a mother, a sister, the daughter of Pharaoh–are the agents with whom God works to save Moses (an act which we know leads to the liberation of the people of Israel much later). Also notice how the action taken by each character requires profound trust–Hebrew midwives defying orders from the king, a woman leaving her infant in possibly dangerous water, a young slave girl approaching Pharaoh’s daughter and offering her mother as a nurse, the King’s daughter raising a Hebrew child and giving him a name (when you give something a name, it’s hard not to bond). It’s hard to read this story without being moved about the way God works in such an unlikely way. Also note how much like the ark Moses’ lined basket of reeds might be. God brought Noah and his family through water as the earth was destroyed and now Moses is brought through the water in his own miniature ark. Finally, you may also be interested to note the way that this story prefigures the early life of Jesus (the threat from King Herod under which Jesus lives, the defiance of the king by the Magi, protection in Egypt just as Moses is protected by Egypt’s elite).

At the end of chapter 2, we learn that after all of these things, time passes. Moses grows up and flees to Midian after killing an Egyptian. “After a long time the king of Egypt dies” (2:23). Then, God hears the Israelite’s cries and remembers God’s covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Hear the Word

This story is in virtually every children’s Bible. We have many books in the Old Testament section of the Christian Education library about the life of Moses, many of them leave out the wonderful story of the Hebrew midwives. Notice the details that are left out by each telling and if you choose to use one of the resources in our cabinet, fill-in the details where they are missing.

Respond to the Word

1. Dress the Part: We have several Egypt costume pieces from VCS 2 years ago. Split your class into Egyptians and Hebrews. Borrow a baby doll from the nursery and act out the first two chapters from Exodus. If the weather is nice, take that acting outside!

2. Wonder: This is story filled with mysteries. Why do people who are in positions of low esteem work in ways that are contrary to those in power? How is God working in them? Does God forget about the Hebrews (since the text says that God heard and remembered them) and their location in Egypt? Is it important that the Israelites have this time away from the land that God promised to their ancestors?

3. Leave it Open-ended: Sometimes when we provide an end product for children to reproduce, we don’t let them respond to the parts of the story they find meaningful. Follow our approach from a couple of weeks ago, and provide several different kinds of materials for your students. Offer them lots of time to reflect on the parts of the story about which they had questions or which they found interesting. You may want to provide writing materials, art or paint materials, clay, or something that you have never tried in your class. Remember, if you put out a new material that the students have not used, you may want to provide a demonstration on how to use it.

4. Sing a Moses Song: Since we will spend two weeks on stories about Moses and the Exodus, you might want to introduce a song or two to sing the next two weeks. They may know the songs from Vacation Church School.

  • Pharaoh, Pharaoh is a favorite
  • Go Down, Moses

You can find the music these songs in the song binder in your classroom. Remember that we have several musicians who are willing to come and sing with your class if they are available and you provide enough notice. You can find them on the Google spreadsheet linked in your weekly teacher email.

5. Compare and Contrast Images: Take a look at some of the ways that this story has been depicted in art. The image below is a Coptic icon of Pharaoh’s daughter drawing Moses from the water. Also check out this image by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Moses in the Bullrushes (1921). What does each of these images show or suggest about the story? Which image tells the story the best? Which one do you like the most? Why?

6. Make Miniature story materials: Use clay, paper, felt, and other materials in the closet to make the various items in the story (baby moses, a basket, reeds, Hebrew midwives) so that students may retell the story to their parents when they get home. Here is one idea of how this might be done, but the possibilities are endless.

Close with a feast and a prayer

Covenant: Jacob’s Ladder or Jacob Named Israel

Introduction

Last week, we left off with the story of God’s promise to Abraham that he would make from him and Sarah a people as numerous as the stars in the sky. God did just that. Abraham and Sarah have a son named Issac. That son, has twin sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob is a funny little character. We have a lot of stories about him and he is generally pretty tricky. With the help of his mother Rebecca, Jacob tricks his older brother out of his inheritance, and then runs away from all of his problems.

This week there are two possible stories on which you may wish to focus.  They are both interesting with a lot of fun directions and potential conversations, so I leave the selection up to you. Below you will find a couple of reflections about each of the stories and some suggestions for activities, as usual.

The story commonly known as “Jacob’s ladder” in which Jacob has a dream, hear’s God’s promises, and makes an altar to the Lord : Genesis 28: 10-22 In this story, Jacob finds himself sleeping under the stars after fleeing from his brother, Esau. Remember, those stars are pretty important to this family. They were God’s reminder that the family would become a great people as numerous as the stars in the sky. Anyway, Jacob finds himself, out in the middle of nowhere, sleeping under these stars. As he sleeps, he dreams that there is a ladder on the earth, which reaches to the sky. Angels of God ascend and descend the ladder. The Lord “stood beside [Jacob] and said ‘ I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth [….] Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you Go.” Notice that Jacob receives a similar promise to the one given to Abraham–I will make from you a numerous people. Sand is surely numerous, especially in the desert. When Jacob awakes from his dream, her renames the place Bethel and builds an altar with his rock pillow.

In our second story( Genesis 32:22-32), Jacob is older and wiser. He is on his way back home to reconcile with his brother when in the middle of the night (when he is out on his own), Jacob wrestles all night with a man. During the night Jacob is injured on the hip. In the morning, he refuses to let the man go until he offers Jacob a blessing. Then, the man renames him: “you shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Jacob names the place Peniel, saying, “for I have seen God face to face, and have lived.”

Both of these stories are about covenant promises, both are about naming, and both are about how God continues to select particular people to become God’s people.

Hear the Word

Share one of the above stories with the children in your class by reading to story together (older children) or telling the story in your own words. Both of these stories are common in our children’s Bibles and you may wish to share it from that. You

Respond to the Word

Jacob’s Ladder Responses

(1). Altar rocks: Isn’t it interesting that so many of God’s encounters with people (whether in dreams or in some personified form) end in altar building? In our story, Jacob builds an altar, names the place at which he is staying, and makes a vow to God. Collect round rocks from outside, or find smooth stones in the supply closet. Then, use acrylic paints to decorate the rocks. Ask your students to decorate their rocks with a word or image from the story. The rocks may be left laying out on the table (on a paper towel) to dry. I will put them in a basket to be kept in your classroom to revisit throughout the year. Remember to write their names in sharpie on the bottom of the rocks before they get started.

 (2). Ladders: Take assorted materials from the supply closet and give your students an opportunity to make an image of Jacob’s dream. Popsicle sticks make wonderful ladders. Yellow and white paint would make a wonderful night sky and glorious light from heaven if used on dark blue paper.

(3.) The Meaning of Dreams Journal or Conversation: Reflect on the significance of Jacob’s dream. Why is there a ladder? Why are angels of God ascending and descending? Is this how they get to and from earth or is something else going on? The Biblical text says that God is standing with Jacob (presumably watching the angels ascend and descend). It’s really a strange picture. Why doesn’t Jacob’s dream just involve God telling him being as numerous as the dust of the earth (why add the whole angel/ladder/heaven thing)? What is really going on this dream?

(4). Play Jacob’s Ladder Game: For this game you will want to go outside and you will need chalk. You can find the directions here.

(5.) Sand Games: Go outside to the sandbox in the playground as you listen to the story about God’s promise to make the people like the dust of the earth (sometimes we heard it said “more numerous than the sands.” Allow the children to play in the sand. Make guesses about how many grains of sand are on our playground, than imagine that this sand is all you can see for miles and miles and miles and miles…….See if your students can imagine numbers big enough. Each child can use sidewalk chalk to record their guesses about grains of sand.

Jacob Renamed Israel Responses

(1). Covenant Nameplates: Like Sarai/Sarah and Abram/Abraham before him, Jacob becomes the recipient of a new name at the moment he receives God’s promise. Discuss together the significance of names. Give your students an opportunity to talk about why they think God may have given each of these individuals a new name, how it changed their their identity, and what it meant for becoming God’s new people. Each of us is also named by the church as belonging to God at our baptism.

Give each child a half sheet of card stock and markers. Have them write their names on the cardstock and decorate with images that remind them of God’s covenant with the people from some of our stories (so far, we have signs and symbols from our Noah, Abraham, and Jacob stories. Since our children know a lot of other stories, they may also want to choose other symbols of covenant, including water). Leave these nameplates in your classroom and as we work on putting together our new Sunday School rooms in the coming weeks, we can put the name plates up on the bulletin board (perhaps under a banner that says, “I am part of the people of God”).

Older children may  like to have a conversation about names more generally. How are our names significant and what do they signify to others? Is there ever a time when we take on a new name (perhaps a nickname, a title, or a new name at baptism)?

(2). Arm wrestling: Divide your students in to pairs and have them arm wrestle with one another. The winner from each pair is paired again, until you reach the top two players. The winner from the last match is called Jacob. Discuss Jacob’s wrestling with God/angel/other human (the text isn’t clear). Who did Jacob wrestle with? What does it mean that “he prevailed”? Why does he ask for a blessing? And, why does the wrestling stranger give him a new name?

Close with a feast and prayer

Covenant: God’s Promises to Sarah and Abraham

Introduction

In the coming weeks, we will begin to discuss the stories about God’s covenant with the peoples we will eventually know as Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These covenant stories are important because they establish one of the central themes of the Hebrew Scripture: “You will be my people and I will be your God.” A version of this phrase shows up soon after our story for today (Genesis 17:8), the first of many times in the Old Testament. In short, our stories about covenant trace how the people of Israel become God’s people, how they learn to belong to God.

In today’s story from Genesis 15:1-6, the word of the Lord comes to Abraham in a vision. A conversation ensues during which Abraham expresses concern that he has no children: “you have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my household is to be my heir” (15:3). God responds that Abraham will have descendants as great as the stars in the sky. Abraham believes and God “reckons it to him as righteousness” (15:6).

Hear the Word

Share the story of God’s covenant with Abraham from Genesis 15:1-6 (Actually Abram, make sure you tell your students that God later changes Abram’s and Sarai’s names. Abram becomes Abraham in 17:5; Sarai becomes Sarah in 17:15.  We aren’t covering the story of the name change this time around because it makes the story too long for us).

You can also read “God Promises a Wonderful Blessing: Abraham Trusts God” from the Children of God Storybook Bible beginning on page 18.

Many of our other children’s storybook Bibles have this story. Find your favorite. Remember to look for versions of the story that emphasize covenant.

Respond to the Word

1. Stargazing and Constellations: Make tubes of paper from black cardstock. On a small square of paper (dark tissue paper would likely work well), have your students carefully make holes with a toothpick or hole/star puncher (in the supply closet). Tape or rubber band the paper to the end of your tube. Older children might like to make a constellations (you can show them some pictures of different constellations or draw a simple picture of the big dipper on your white board). Decorate the outside and write “You will be as numerous as the stars in the sky”–Genesis 15:5 on the outside.

2. Make and/or decorate stars: There are a bunch of ideas for making and decorating your own starts. You can decorate some of the paper stars in the supply closet (they are on the back shelf) or make craft stick stars (scroll down to see this one), or sun catcher glitter stars (if you’re in the mood for messy). For older children, you can make one of the folded stars here (use the printed origami paper in the supply closet). Wonder together about how Abraham and Sarah felt about God’s promises (hint: you can look at some of the later stories in Genesis 15-18). I wonder if Abraham and Sarah thought about God’s promises every time they looked at the night sky.

3. Footprints following God (young children): Abraham and Sarah knew that God’s promises were good. At the end of our passage it says that Abraham believed God’s promises and God counted it as righteousness.  When you trust God, you go wherever God asks you to go. Use the roll of brown bulletin paper (supply closet near the nursery) to trace each child’s foot. Allow them to decorate the footprint and write “I will follow God” on each foot print.

4. God’s Promises: Journal about God’s promises (there will be many of these in our Old Testament stories, so this is a good time to start reflecting on the promises we have seen so far, Noah/all of creation and Abraham and Sarah) What did it mean to be God’s people? What does it mean to belong to God? Reflect on why Abraham believed God’s promises, even though he didn’t have a child until he was almost 100 years old. What has God promised to us? Which of these promises is most important to you? How do we know that we can trust God?

In lieu of journaling, younger children might enjoy writing a postcard from Abraham telling a friend about God’s promises. Bonus: If you would like, students can “send” their postcards to the church and I can put them on our Advent bulletin board as we head toward the time of the year when we remember the fulfillment of God’s biggest promise in Jesus.

5. Act it out: You can find a skit for God’s Promises to Abraham here. It’s straight from the Bible and a great way to get your kids to tell the story after you have done so.

6. Music: Sing Father Abraham with the children in your class. If the weather is nice, get outside and get moving! You can also sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Have your kids lay down on the ground as though they are looking up at the stars in the sky. Ask them to close their eyes and imagine that they are looking at the same stars that Abraham and Sarah saw so long ago.

Close with a Feast and Prayer