Young children excel at dreaming about the future. Ask them what they envision their lives being like years from now and they’ll offer hope-filled stories of lives well lived. As they grow older, they begin to see that the pathways to their future selves contain more bumps and curves than straightaways. Seeing that ideal life ahead can be difficult when it seems like there is suffering and difficulty surrounding them. Yet God offers hope and our faith allows us to hold hope during challenges. In this lesson, children will explore the message of hope Isaiah 65 offers and they will consider how they might hold hope for their own futures.
You will need
- A Bible
- A computer with internet access that is hooked up to a data projector or television (optional)
- Blank paper; crayons, markers, or pencils; envelopes (optional)
Greet the children as they arrive.
Have the children sit on the floor or around a table so that they are facing one another.
Ask the children to close their eyes and imagine life 30 years from now. Encourage them to notice where they are living, who is a part of their lives, and what the world looks like. After a minute or two, ask each child to share what they imagined.
- What kind of world does God imagine for us?
- What is part of God’s ideal world?
- What would be absent in God’s ideal world?
Exploring the passage
Say a prayer.
Provide context for the Scripture passage Isaiah 65:17-25.
- The Book of Isaiah is part of the Old Testament. It shares important messages from God to God’s people during a very difficult time in their history.
- The part of the Book of Isaiah that today’s reading comes from contained messages from God to God’s people after they returned from Exile. The people of God had built a temple, a place where they believed they were close to God, in the city of Jerusalem. It was on the land that God promised the people they would be able to live on forever.
- However, neighboring nations attacked Jerusalem, destroying the Temple and forcing the people to scatter. They lived for many years outside of their beloved city. Finally, they are returning to their homeland.
- Encourage the children to notice what God says about the life that the people will live when they return to Jerusalem.
Read aloud Isaiah 65:17-25.
- What does the “new heavens and new earth” that the people of God will experience look like?
- What will the people’s lives be like?
- What will their families be like?
- Where will they live?
- What will the animals’ lives be like?
- What words would you use to describe this “new heavens and new earth”?
- Would you want to live in this place? Why or why not?
Relating the passage to our lives
Help the children connect Isaiah’s message of hope with their own lives. Note that God is presenting a future that is filled with peace, well-being, and hope. We can hold this same kind of hope for our futures.
Choose one or more of these activities to engage in with the children:
- Picture book read aloud God’s Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Read this book aloud to the children or show a video recording of the book being read. After reading the book aloud, discuss the parts that resonated with the children. Ask them to imagine what each of “God’s dreams” might look like in their own communities.
- Community garden exploration: Isaiah tells the people “they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.” God promises Israel that they will be able to plant and grow enough to eat in the future. We experience this promise through projects that make sure people have enough fresh, nutritious food to eat such as community gardens. Plan to visit a community garden in your town or if your church has a garden, schedule some time to work in it with the children.
- Letter to their future selves: Provide each child with a blank sheet of paper, a pencil, crayons, or markers and an envelope. Ask the children to write a letter to or draw a picture for their future selves. In it, they should share their hopes for their futures. Have the children seal the letters in the envelopes and give them to their parents or caretakers so they can return them to the children at a future date.