Each of us has at least one person we don’t particularly like, even children. While we know that God calls us to love everyone, we struggle to be in relationships with some people. People can be mean or even cruel. They can hurt others. They may even pose a safety risk. Yet there are opportunities to discover ways to connect to our “enemies” when we view them through God’s eyes. In this lesson, children will explore Jeremiah’s message to the Israelites to live in community with their enemies, the Babylonians. They will wonder about ways they can find value and even beauty in relationships with those they don’t particularly like.
You will need
- The Lotus Seed book or YouTube video reading of the book (optional)
- Origami paper (optional)
- YouTube video, How To Make an Origami Lotus Flower—the simple way (optional)
- Media equipment
Greet the children as they arrive.
Have each child think of someone they do not enjoy spending time with. Then, encourage them to silently imagine what it would be like to spend a full day alone with that person.
- What would the two of you do together?
- How would it feel to be together all day?
- What might you discover after spending the day together?
- What good could come from spending time with this person?
- It is human to not like all people.
- God calls us to love all of creation, including all people.
- We are challenged to do so when we do not particularly enjoy being friends with all people.
- The Bible story we’ll read today will look at two groups of people living together even though they are enemies.
Exploring the passage
Say a prayer.
Introduce Jeremiah 29: 1, 4-7:
- Jeremiah was an Old Testament prophet. God called on Jeremiah when he was very young, asking him to share important messages from God to the people of God.
- Jeremiah was worried he might not be able to do so, but God promised God would be by Jeremiah’s side and would give him the words to share.
- Many of the messages God asked Jeremiah to share with God’s people were difficult for them to hear. Jeremiah told them they would be pushed out of the land God promised would be theirs forever. They would live in exile from their homeland and their Temple. Jeremiah’s messages were true – the people of God did end up living in exile but not forever.
- In today’s reading, Jeremiah will share God’s words with the people of God who are living in exile.
- The reading mentions a place called Babylon. Babylon is a nation that conquered Jerusalem, the city where God’s people lived and worshiped. The people of God and the Babylonians were enemies.
- Ask the children to notice what God tells the people of God to do while they are living in exile in Babylon.
Read aloud Jeremiah 29: 1, 4-7. Discuss:
- What does Jeremiah’s letter tell the people of God they should do when they are living in exile in Babylon?
- How would you feel if you were asked to live closely with people who are your enemies?
- Why do you think God does this?
- What do you think God is hoping the people of God will discover while they are living in community with the Babylonians?
Relating the passage to our lives (choose one or more)
- Read aloud the book The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland or watch a video read the book aloud. After reading, discuss how difficult times in our lives can bring about goodness, just as the lotus seed is able to grow into a beautiful flower in muddy soil.
- Make origami lotuses with the children using origami paper. You can find an easy tutorial here. Discuss how difficult times in our lives can bring about goodness.
Encourage the children to search for opportunities in their lives to find goodness in others, even when they may not like those people.
Pray to close.