God gives; God opens; and God helps

Palm Sunday, Year B, Old Testament Lesson Plan

Scripture: Isaiah 50:4-9a

In this section of Isaiah we hear what is sometimes called the third servant song. Isaiah 40-55 are passages that talk about the image of a suffering servant. The lectionary preparers likely chose this reading for Palm Sunday as a foreshadowing of the suffering Jesus was going to endure in Jerusalem. The servant illustrated in the servant songs is a wise and loyal follower of God who will have a gentle heart, a trained tongue, a listening ear, and the courage to love with sacrificial love. The way the passages are written invites the reader to imagine him/herself as the servant just as we so often try to insert the image of Christ into this servant role.

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LPTW Palm Sunday, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Palm Sunday, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

Written on Our Hearts

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B, Old Testament Lesson

Scripture: Jeremiah 31:31-34

In our reading from the prophet Jeremiah we return again to the plight of the Israelites in the wilderness. God sent the 10 Commandments to the people who were worshipping golden calves and disrespecting Moses and one another. The people heard the thunder of God’s voice and saw the tablets, but they still disobeyed. The people complained tirelessly for lack of food and the length of the journey and God, in God’s anger, sent the plight of snakes on the people. The people repented, and God sent the antidote. Here were learn of God seeing the need for a new way forward and God’s decision to make a new covenant with the people since the covenant made in taking the people out of Egypt has been broken by the people, themselves. In this covenant there will no longer be outward signs like the rainbow after the flood, the name changes of the patriarch and matriarch, or the tablets upon which the commandments were written. This new covenant would respond to the very way God made humans – God promised to write the knowledge and love of God onto their very hearts. In doing this, God ensured that the people could never stray too far from the Lord. This new covenant is one of love and mercy and it speaks to the very nature of the Almighty.

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LPTW Lent 5, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Lent 5, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

Be Grateful for What You Have

Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B, Old Testament Lesson

Scripture: Numbers 21:4-9

Our scripture this week challenges us to listen for God’s goodness in a passage that is uncomfortable. Some claim that the God of the Hebrew Scriptures was an angry God and when Jesus came God became about Love, but that interpretation denies the eternal benevolence of God. In today’s passage we hear more about the Israelites whom God rescued out of slavery and is leading to the Promised Land. Last week God sent the 10 Commandments to help the people get back on track following a series of complaints and missteps. This week, we hear that the Israelites are, once again, complaining about God and feeling as though God is abandoning them. It would be easy to gloss over the arrival of the snakes only to focus on the anti-venom provided – but that does a disservice to the passage. In this passage we learn that the journey is what we make it to be. By complaining constantly and overlooking each blessing bestowed, the Israelites bring upon themselves more and more difficult hardships. However, God continues to provide the remedy for what ails them. Through this seemingly endless journey through the wilderness, the Israelites are starting to realize that the Promised Land is ahead of them, but might be for the next generation rather than those who started out of Egypt. God has made a covenant with the people – God has promised to take them out of slavery into the Promised Land; until the people trust God and the messengers God sends, they will not arrive. A covenant requires that both sides of the promise live into it, mutually.

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LPTW Lent 4, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Lent 4, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

God is the Way

Third Sunday in Lent, Year B, Old Testament Lesson

Scripture: Exodus 20:1-17

We’ve all heard of the 10 Commandments. Many of the children who will be in class today will have at least heard of the phrase “The 10 Commandments,” but how many of them will know where they came from or understand what they mean for our lives today? Jerome Berryman calls his Godly Play lesson for the 10 Commandments “The 10 Best Ways” as a way of translating for young children the understanding that these rule were meant to instruct the people of Israel in a philosophy that would help them to live as their best selves. The people were wondering in the desert, following Moses out of slavery in Egypt, searching for the land flowing with milk and honey they had been promised. The people were getting tired of wandering and searching and started to rebel against Moses and against God. They had put up with enough and wanted to find immediate gratification for their needs. This made God sad and perplexed Moses, who felt ill equipped to get the people back on track. So God spoke to Moses and gave him these 10 straightforward, but deeply challenging rules to assist the people in following God and honoring the “dignity of every human being.”

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LPTW Lent 3, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Lent 3, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

God Will Call You By Name

Second Sunday in Lent, Year B, Old Testament Lesson

Scripture: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

This week we travel further into the book of Genesis to learn about God’s covenant with Abraham and Sarah (Formerly: Abram and Sarai.) Abram and Sarai were faithful followers of God. For many years Abram and Sarai followed where God sent them. God promised to make Abram’s off-spring “as numerous as the stars in the heavens” (Genesis 15:5) but Sarai’s womb remained barren. Now, in their old age, God makes a new covenant with Abram. As a sign of the covenant God changes their names to Abraham and Sarah and, once again, promises that Sarah will have a child – a son. What we do not hear in this passage is that Abraham and Sarah laugh in response to God’s promise, they cannot believe that in their old age they will finally have the child they have desired so long. However, God is, indeed, faithful to this promise. This week we learn the importance of a name. Just as we are called by name at our baptism, God calls Abraham and Sarah by a new name before sending them into a new calling: to be the parents of a new nation.

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LPTW Lent 2, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Lent 2, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

God’s Promises are Eternal

First Sunday in Lent, Year B, Old Testament Lesson

Scripture: Genesis 9:8-17

On this first Sunday in Lent we hear the end of Noah’s story. Most of us are familiar with the tale of Noah’s arc and the flood that covered the earth. The students in your class will have played with a toy arc and plastic animals before. This week, however, we leave out all of the destruction and fear and focus on the promise. God chose Noah and his family to survive the flood and continue the human race – but trusting a God who destroys all that has been created is a difficult prospect. In today’s passage we hear of the mercy of God and the promise of life in abundance to come. In this exert from Genesis God makes a covenant not only with Noah, but with all living creatures, that the world will not be wiped out again. And to remind them of this promise God sends the rainbow and tells Noah and his children that each time they see a rainbow it should serve as a reminder of God’s promise to them. God likes to give us signs and symbols to remind us of God’s goodness, we practice them in the Eucharist each week when we “do this in remembrance of [Christ.]” Seeing the rainbow in nature, then, becomes sacramental as we remember the goodness of God as exemplified in the colors in the sky.

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LPTW Lent 1, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Lent 1, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

The Suffering Servant

Palm Sunday, Year C, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Isaiah 50:4-9

It is Palm Sunday! Isaiah 50:4-9 is read in all three lectionary years, regardless of which Gospel account is given. This reflects the long understanding of the Christian church that Jesus is the suffering servant described in Isaiah.

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LPTW Palm Sunday, Year C, Old Testament, Younger Children
LPTW Palm Sunday, Year C, Old Testament, Older Children

God is Doing a New Thing!

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C, Old Testament
Scripture: Isaiah 43:16-21

We have moved from the story-telling kind of narratives in our Hebrew Scripture lesson, to the more poetic voice of Isaiah. (You might want to remind the children that the Bible is made up of all kinds of writing, such as stories, letters, laws, and songs.) We don’t listen to this kind of writing the same way that we listen to a narrative story. Today’s reading is a kind of poetry through which we still hear the voice of God. This passage from Isaiah references the stories we have heard in the past few weeks, but calls us to move past simple remembrance into participation into God’s new and ongoing action in the world.

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LPTW Lent 5, Year C, Old Testament, Younger Children
LPTW Lent 5, Year C, Old Testament, Older Children

Remembering

Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C, Old Testament
Scripture: Joshua 5:9-12 

In this week’s lesson, we move forward in time again, to the time of Joshua, just after the people of God have ended their 40 years of post-Exodus wandering in the desert, and have crossed the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land. The lesson today takes place between this river crossing, which has many parallels to the crossing of the Red Sea in the Exodus story, and the battle of Jericho.

Download the lesson plan for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

LPTW Lent 4, Year C, Old Testament, Younger Children
LPTW Lent 4, Year C, Old Testament, Older Children

God Promises to be with Moses

Third Sunday in Lent, Year C, Old Testament

Scripture: Exodus 3:1-15

In this week’s lesson, we move forward in time from the story of Abraham, to the time that the people of God are slaves in Egypt. We hear how God calls Moses to lead the people to freedom, and promises to be with Moses as he does this. Through Moses’ action, God will fulfill the promise made to Abraham that his descendants will live in the land that God had given him.

Download the lesson plan for the Third Sunday in Lent

LPTW Lent 3, Year C, Old Testament, Younger Children
LPTW Lent 3, Year C, Old Testament, Older Children