Understanding time is a challenge for many children. Yesterday often seems as if it was eons ago and tomorrow feels like it is forever away from today. Stories of great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents seem as if they took place before the earth was formed. And Bible stories, especially those in the Old Testament, feel like they took place in a whole other world. Still, we are connected to the people of the Bible and their stories through God. In this lesson, children will explore the story of God’s covenant with Abraham and they will wonder about connections between their faith family and this old, old story.
What you will need
- A Bible
- Shared Dreams activity: Copies of cloud outline sheet, crayons or markers, a computer with Internet access connected to a data projector or television, a map of the Promised Land, and “In Gaza, Filmmakers Asked Children: What is Your Dream?” (optional)
- “How it started vs. How it’s going” memes: A computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector, “30 Wholesome ‘How It Started vs. How It’s Going’ Posts,” copies of meme_template, and crayons or markers.
Greet the children as they arrive.
Ask the children:
- What do you think you’ll be doing five minutes from now?
- How about five hours from now?
- Five days from now?
- Five years from now?
- Ten years from now?
- Is it easier to think about what you’ll be doing in the near or far future? Why?
Hearing and exploring the story
Prepare to read aloud Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16.
Provide the children with context for the reading:
- This story comes from the Old Testament book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. There are lots of “firsts” that happen in this portion of the Bible, including the events of this story.
- Prior to this story, God spoke to a man named Abram calling him to leave his homeland and journey to a new place God would make his home. Abram and his wife Sarai did as God asked, journeying for a long time. When they arrived in this new place, God promised Abram that his family would be able to live there for all time.
- When the story begins, the two main characters are named Abram and Sarai. By the end of the story, they will be called Abraham and Sarah. Notice why they change their names.
Read aloud Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16. The children’s Bible Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible offers a child-friendly retelling of this story and connects it with Abram and Sarai’s journey to their new homeland called “Abram and Sarai Find a New Home.”
After reading the story ask,
- What does God promise Abram?
- I wonder why God made this particular promise to Abraham …
- I wonder what we might have in common with Abraham and Sarah …
- I wonder how God continues the promise made to Abraham today …
Connecting the story to our lives
To help the children connect the story to their own lives and experiences, invite them to engage in one or more of the following activities:
- Shared dreams: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: copies of a cloud outline sheet, crayons or markers, a computer with Internet access connected to a data projector or television, a map of the Promised Land and “In Gaza, Filmmakers Asked Children-What is Your Dream?” Hand each child a cloud sheet. Ask them to draw or write about their dreams for their futures. What do they hope they will be doing? What do they think their lives will be like? What will the larger world be like? After drawing, have the children share their responses. Show the map of the Promised Land to the children noting that this is the place God gave to Abraham and promised would belong to his descendants. Point out the Gaza Strip. Note that there is disagreement amongst the people in this area about who this land belongs to. There has been and continues to be violence in this area. Show the video. After watching the video, ask the children to reflect on the dreams those in the video shared. Do they share any of the same dreams as the children in Gaza? How are they connected to these children?
- “How it started vs. How it’s going” memes: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: a computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector, “30 Wholesome ‘How It Started vs. How It’s Going’ Posts,” copies of meme_template, and crayons or markers. Ask the children to share what they know about the “How It Started/How It’s Going” meme trend. Show the website. Scroll through some of the memes asking the children to notice how the person changed from “then” to “now” as well as the overall message of their transformation. Note that a “how it started” can be within a person’s lifetime or it can extend generations before they were born. Give each child a meme template. Ask them to use the crayons or markers to draw a picture of the scene described in the Bible story in the “How It Started” Then, ask them to draw a picture of their life right now in the “How It’s Going” box. Have the children share their memes. Notice the transformations as well as the similarities to our faith ancestors, Abraham and Sarah.