The church I serve just set a vision for the future. The process to create this vision was a lengthy one. We spent a good deal of time looking at area demographics and trends as well as noticing what God is doing right now in our congregation, but we also dreamed about the future. What might our ministries look like in 5 or 10 years? What is God calling us to do in and with our community?
This sort of dreaming is an important part of our faith. With God’s help, we try to envision a world where God’s kin-dom is realized. And we’re never too young to begin developing our God-assisted visioning skills! In this lesson, children will explore God’s promise to the people of Israel to build a new Jerusalem offered in Jeremiah. Then they will look to the future, dreaming about the world God is calling us to build.
Begin your time with the children by talking about daydreaming. What is daydreaming to your group of children? Do they daydream? What do they daydream about? Share that daydreaming is something all humans do. We like to use our imaginations to think about possibilities. Imagination is a part of our faith lives. We can dream about what God’s messages we read in the Bible might be telling us about how we can live in the world.
Exploring the passage
Prepare to read aloud Jeremiah 33:14-16. Share with the children that this passage comes from the Old Testament book that shares the prophecies God shared with Jeremiah. Jeremiah lived in a difficult time for the people of God. The land they were promised by God was repeatedly invaded by foreign nations. They were forced to leave this sacred land and the place where they experienced God, the Temple in Jerusalem, was destroyed. Many felt lost and afraid, separated from God. Others turned away from their faith. It was a scary time for God’s people. Encourage them to notice the hopeful promise God makes in the lectionary text.
Read aloud Jeremiah 33:14-16. After reading, ask the children to recount what God promises God’s people. Share that God offers them a message of hope. Jeremiah says that God will bring one (“a righteous branch of David”) bring “justice and righteousness in the land.” Jerusalem will be safe, and the people will be saved. Have the children wonder about what or who this “righteous branch of David” is. Remind them we are in the season of Advent, the time when we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
Relating the passage to our lives
Connect the hopeful promise God makes in Jeremiah’s text to God’s larger hopes for the world by sharing a video reading of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s picture book “God’s Dream.” This lovely book shares God’s hopes for all creation. While the pictures are geared towards younger children, the words are applicable to people of all ages.
For a video of the book with just a voice-over:
For a video of someone holding the book and reading it:
After watching the video, have the children share aspects of God’s dream for the world that spoke to them.
Conclude your time with the children by having them share their hopes for the world. Ask them to think about what they hope the world will look like in the future. What will communities look like? What parts of God’s dream for creation will we see? You can discuss their answers, or you can ask them to share them through art. They can draw pictures, create collages using photographs from magazines, or they can create digital collages using online images. Encourage them to explain their vision for the future, noticing where God is at work in the world.
Joelle Brummit-Yale is the director of children’s and youth ministries at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian in Chapel Hill, N.C. When not at the church, she can usually be found at home with her son and husband caring for their many animals and developing their family homestead.