Anna's Hosannas!
Free Worship Resources for Use with the Lectionary
 
Lesson for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Year A (October 5, 2011)

Scripture Reference: Exodus 32: 1-14

First Thoughts: I think the parable assigned this Sunday is a bit weighty for children (and probably for most adults); so I'm going to focus this Sunday on the passage from Exodus.  But instead of emphasizing the idolatry of the people Israel, I want to focus on another common human problem - impatience.  It's really hard to wait for something that you really need, or really want.   It's also hard when you're not sure you trust the person who is making you wait. ( Are they really trustworthy?  Am I going to look foolish for waiting all this time?)  When have you been required to wait for something?  Were you able to wait successfully, or not? If not, what prevented you from waiting?

Props You Will Need: Clear bag of empty sunflower shells (or other seed shells.)  Leader 2 will be holding the bag - or holding some in his hand.

Teaching as a Team:
Leader 1: Hey (name), what do you have there?  
Leader 2: It's supposed to be flowers.
Leader 1: Doesn't look like flowers to me.
Leader 2: Nope, because I didn't do it right.
Leader 1: Didn't do what right?
Leader 2:  See, I love sunflowers, and I went to the nursery and said I'd like to grow some.  The lady handed me these seeds and said the flower was inside.  But if I wanted the flower to come out I would need to plant them and water them, and wait.
Leader 1: So what did you do?
Leader 2: I planted them and watered them, and then I waited.  I waited for a really long time.
Leader 1: How long?
Leader 2: At least two days.  But nothing happened.  So then I started to think maybe the lady was tricking me.  I mean, it does sound a little crazy, right - for a great big flower like a sunflower to fit in such a small seed?  So I decided I'd waited long enough, and I dug them up and opened them up.  No flower.
Leader 1:  But there would have been a flower if you'd waited. It takes time for plants to grow, and it takes patience to wait for them.    Sounds like you were a little impatient, doesn' t it?  Kinda like the people of Israel.  God had rescued them from slavery and brought them out to a mountain, and their leader Moses was going up on the mountain to talk to God and to find out what they should do next.  And they waited, and they waited, and they waited.  They waited over a month!
Leader 2: Wow!  That's a long time.
Leader 1: And the longer they waited, what do you think happened?
Leader 2: They got less and less patient.
Leader 1: Yeah.  They didn't have anything to do.  They were so excited about finally being free they wanted to get on with it.
Leader 2: Like I wanted to see my flowers.
Leader 1: And they started to wonder whether they really trusted Moses.
Leader 2: Like I thought the nursery worker was joking with me.
Leader 1: So they decided they would just leave Moses and God behind, and start out on their own.  
Leader 2: I bet that made God and Moses angry.
Leader 1: It did.  Luckily God loves us all the time - even when we're impatient.  And God gave them another chance.
Leader 2: Do you think if I got some more sunflower seeds, I could get another chance too?
Leader 1: I think you probably would.

On Your Own: (holding seeds in front of you)  You know what these are?  Well, they're supposed to be flowers.  But they don't look like flowers, do they?  I just love sunflowers, so I went to a nursery to look for some.  The lady gave me these seeds, and told me the flowers were inside.  All I would need to do is plant them, water them, and wait.  So I did. I planted, I watered, and then I waited.  I waited a REALLY long time - like two days!  But nothing happened.  So I began to think, maybe that lady was tricking me.  I mean, it does sound a little crazy, right - for a great big flower like a sunflower to fit in such a small seed?  So I decided I'd waited long enough, and I dug them up and opened them up.  No flower. What do you think happened?  Do you think I waited long enough?  Probably not.  It takes time for plants to grow, and it takes patience to wait for them.   I was too impatient.  Have you ever felt impatient about something?  Kinda like the people of Israel in our story today.  God had rescued them from slavery and brought them out to a mountain, and their leader Moses was going up on the mountain to talk to God and to find out what they should do next.  And they waited, and they waited, and they waited.  They waited over a month!  And the longer they waited, what do you think happened?  The longer they waited the less patient they became.  They didn't have anything to do.  They were so excited about finally being free they wanted to get on with it.   Like I wanted to see my flowers.  And they started to wonder whether they really trusted Moses.  Like I thought the nursery worker was joking with me.  So they decided they would just leave Moses and God behind, and start out on their own.  Probably made Moses and God angry, wouldn't you think? Yeah.  But luckily for us, God loves us all the time - even when we're impatient.  And God gave them another chance. Hey, do you think if I went to the nursery and got some new seeds, that I would get a second chance to grow my flowers?  Probably so!

Closing Prayer:  Thank you for second chances, God, and for loving us so much even when we have a hard time waiting for you to work in our lives. Help us to grow each day in trusting you as our Shepherd, and in following your lead.  In Christ's name we pray, Amen.


Follow-Up Lesson: One way to follow up on this lesson is to talk to the kids about the difference between justice and mercy. Revisit the story of the Israelites.  When they decided to leave God and Moses behind, they really betrayed their relationship.  The text tells us that God was ready to give up on them, but Moses begged God to show mercy.  So God forgave the people and gave them another chance.  Justice means that if you mess up you have to do something to make it right again. Help kids come up with different examples: break a friend's toy, buy a new one;  make a mess, clean it up; take something that doesn't belong to you, you return it and apologize.  But what about mistakes that you really can't make up for?  Examples, hurting someone's feelings, hitting or pushing someone, threatening someone.  Even if you say you're sorry for these things, you can't really take them back.  That's when we have to ask for mercy.  Mercy means we're granted forgiveness, not because we've made up our mistakes, but because the person granting mercy loves us and wants to stay in relationship with us.  It's great to know that, no matter what our mistakes - even the ones we can't correct - we serve a God of mercy.  We can always start again.  For a craft I am going to print out a jpeg of the Hebrew mercy seat, and let them cover it in glitter (to simulate the gold.)  Let them know that the mercy seat was used in the Jewish temple to help the people receive forgiveness for their sins, and to start over.  Christ has taught us that God's mercy seat is with all us the time.  Perhaps they can hang this picture somewhere in their room, to help them remember that God is always ready to forgive.