Abraham and Sarah
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Decorate and learn how to make use of a blessing box. Discuss blessings in their lives and how they can bless others.
Genesis 12:1-9; 13:14b-18, 15:1-7, 15:18a, 17:1–9, 17:15–17; 18:1–15; and 21:1-3
“I will always keep the promise I have made to you and your descendants, because I am your God and their God.” Genesis 17:7 (CEV)
Workshop Objectives —
After completing this Rotation, participants will be able to:
- Name that the story is found in the first book of the Old Testament,Genesis.
- (3rd grade and up) Locate the story in the Bible.
- Tell in his/her own words the story of Abraham & Sarah – their call to leave home to travel to a distant land, the promises God made to them, their faith (which sometimes waned while waiting years, and finally the birth of the promised son, Isaac.
- Define a covenant as an agreement or promise with conditions. Identify the covenant God made with Abram (land and many descendants; blessings and to be a blessing to others).
- Describe blessings in their lives. Discover the potential of blessing another person.
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Gather the materials.
- Easel; appropriate maker
- Adventure Bibles (NIV) and at least two CEV Bibles (for 3rd grade and up)
- On-My-Own Reader Bible (one copy)
- Plain, undecorated boxes (one for each student)
- Instruction sheets (one for each student -- see attached file below)
- Glue sticks (one for each student)
- Decorating items, including: Markers, Decorative (scrapbook) paper, Scissors, (regular and decorative), Sharpie markers (for 3rd grade and up) and other miscellaneous decorative items
- Blank Blessing cards (10 for each student)
Before Start of Class:
- Write the key Bible verse on the easel.
- Familiarize yourself with the blessing box materials, and review the instruction sheet (attached) so that you are familiar with what the Blessing box is and how it should be used.
- Bookmark the leader’s Bible at the very start of the New Testament.
Opening – Welcome & Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Art Workshop. Introduce yourself and have the Shepherds introduce themselves.
Ask: Can you tell me about how people might get messages to each other? (allow a few answers - i.e., phone, text, e-mail, walk over to their house, etc.)
Say: In the Bible story we are learning about, a man named Abram, [pronounced AY- bram] gets some special messages from God.
Ask: If God wanted to send a message to you, how do you suppose God might do that? (allow a few answers) Perhaps add…Have you ever had a really strong “gut feeling” about something, or maybe you were feeling sad and someone came up to you and said just the right thing to make you feel better?
Say: These are ways that God speaks to us: through other people, through the Bible, or even being out in nature. Today we are going to learn about an important message that God is hoping that we hear. And we’ll talk about a way that can help us to hear this special message. First let’s start with prayer.
Ask: What shall we pray for today?” [Helpful wording: “How would you say that in a prayer?”] A suggested prayer: “Dear God, we thank you for this time together to share words from the Bible, and to learn more about how you speak to us. We thank you for the blessings you give us… pray for any thankfuls… We thank you for the chance to learn to be a blessing to other people. In blessing others we offer our prayers for … pray for requests. End with the Lord’s Prayer. Amen.
Dig - Main Content & Reflection:
Say: Let’s say that God sends your parents a message that they are going to have to move. You are going to start over someplace new and wonderful, but far away from friends and family. Oh, and by the way, you will live in a tent in this new place.
Ask: What would your reaction be to this news? (accept a few responses)
Do you suppose you’d be able to just pack up and go – without knowing much about the place you were asked to move to?
Say: We are going to hear a Bible story today about a family that received such a message from God. God told them to move a long way from their home. Even though God did not use a phone, we describe this message as being a call – a call to action with a very important message.
Ask: If Jesus learned this story when he was your age, would we find it in the Old Testament or the New Testament? (in the Old Testament)
Does anyone remember from watching the Buck Denver movies this summer, what the word Testament means? Say: The word “testament” comes from the Latin word “testamentum,” which means “oath” or “covenant.” A covenant and an oath are promises, so the word testament means a “promise.”
Do: On the easel, connect the word “Testament” with a line drawn to the word “promise” (in the key verse). Then as you say the next words, show the portions of the Bible that are the Old & the New Testament.
Say: The Bible is divided into two testaments – the Old Testament and the New Testament, the old promise and the new promise.
Ask: What is the difference between the two testaments?
Say: The Old Testament is stories that Jesus learned as a child. The Old Testament was the only “Bible” that existed in Jesus’ time. The New Testament was written after Jesus had died and was raised from the dead. The New Testament tells us the story of Jesus’ life and the start of the church after Jesus’ resurrection. Besides being divided into two testaments, the Bible is divided into 66 books.
Ask: Does anyone know which book our Bible story is from?
Say: Our Bible story is found in the book of Genesis. Genesis is the first book of the Bible.
For 3rd grade and up:
Do: Distribute Bibles, making sure that at least two students have a CEV Bible (but don’t point out that theirs is different). Have everyone find Genesis, chapter 12, verse one.
Say: Our story is long. It includes parts from chapter 12 all the way up to chapter 21. That is too much for us to read right now; read this at home with your families. Let’s look up our key Bible verse – this is the verse that we try to learn during each Rotation.
Do: Have the students find Genesis 17:7. Ask a student with an Adventure Bible (NIV) to read the key verse out loud.
Ask: Did anyone notice that when our verse was being read, that what their Bible said was different?
Say: I have purposely passed out Bibles that are what we call different “versions.” There are also many different versions of the Bible. Leave your finger in this place in the Bible, but if you look on the spine of your Bible you’ll see in this case, letters “NIV” or “CEV.” Do: Have everyone look at the spine of their Bible. Say: “NIV” stands for New International Version and “CEV” stands for Contemporary English Version. These are just two different versions of the Bible. Various versions are written for different reasons. NIV sticks as closely as possible to the original Hebrew and Greek words. CEV stays close to the expressed ideas, but it doesn’t always follow the exact original wording or word order.
For all students:
Say: Since our story is so long, I’ll use a story Bible to tell you about the family called by God to move away from their home. The main character in our story is an old man named Abram. At the start of our story Abram is 75 years old. His wife Sarai [pronounced sah-RYE] is about 65. They were probably older than your grandparents. (You'll probably have to hear how old some of their grandparents are!)
Do: Read them the story on pages 24-31 in the On-My-Own Reader Bible.
Show pictures (if appropriate) as you read the story. In later weeks of the Rotation, ask students to tell you the story.
Say: I am so thankful! I consider myself blessed to have heard our Bible story!
Ask: Have you ever thought of what a blessing it is to be able to hear?
What does it mean to be “blessed?” (allow a few responses)
Say: Being blessed means that you’ve received something good. In our story, God promised that he would bless Abram.
For 3rd grade and up:
Say: Let’s look up that part in the Bible.
Do: Have students look at Genesis 12:1. Introduce that this is God speaking to Abram (by looking at first part of 12:1). Then look at the first part of Genesis 12:2. “I will bless you.”
Say: God tells Abram, “I will bless you.”
For all students:
Ask: If being blessed means receiving something good, at this point in our story – where God is first telling Abram his important message – what good thing did Abram receive from God in that message? (answer looking for: a promise)
Do: Refer to the easel connect the word “promise” (in the key verse) with a line to the word: “covenant.”
Say: God gave Abram a promise; a special promise we call a covenant.
Ask: What was the covenant that God made with Abram? [If necessary for grades 3 and up, refer to Genesis 12:1-3.]
Say: When you read all of this story you will see that God repeats this promise over and over. God promised Abram that he would have a huge family – children and grandchildren and great grandchildren; eventually becoming a great nation of people. God said that Abram would have many blessings and that Abram would be a blessing to others.
Ask: What does it mean to be a blessing to others? (allow a few answers)
Say: To receive a blessing means to receive something good, so to give a blessing, or to be a blessing to someone else, means to give good things. Receiving a blessing feels good but giving a blessing – that feels really great doesn’t it? Giving blessings is powerful stuff!
Ask: Remember when I said that I felt blessed to have been able to hear? Do you suppose that there are other little things like that – little blessings that we don’t think much about…like having a loving family and a safe home… Why do you suppose it would be helpful to recognize all of those blessings? Remember when I said that today we would learn about an important message that God is hoping that we hear? Does anyone know what that message is?
Say: That’s right: God loves us! God wants to give us many blessings! Recognizing and remembering blessings we have received, reminds us of how much God loves us. Having a way to remember blessings we have given to others can remind us to continue blessing other people! Today you will create a special, beautifully decorated box to store memories of your blessings, both given and received. We’ll call this a Blessing Box.
Make Blessings Boxes
Do: Pass out a box and an instruction sheet and a glue stick to each student.
Say: This blessing box comes with instructions on how to use it. Glue the instruction sheet on the top inside flap of your box. [Have them do that now.]
Do: Read through the instruction sheet with the younger students (1stand 2nd graders). Have the3rd grade and up students take turns reading the instruction sheet aloud. Next, pass out the blank blessings cards (10 cards per student).
Say: These are blessings cards. Whenever you think of a blessing that you have received or have given, write it on one of these cards and put it in your “Family Blessings Box.” Now I’m sure that you are going to soon need more cards! Just use any piece of paper as a blessing card. The other thing that I'd really like for you to do is to write “your family name Blessing Box” somewhere on your box. For example, if my name was Joe Smith, I would write “Smith Family Blessing Box.”
Do: Suggest places they could write this on the box (top cover, sides, etc.)
Say: After you have these two things done, you may decorate the rest of it however you like. [Distribute the materials that are available.]
Discussion: (while the kids are working)
Ask: As we work on our blessing boxes, can someone tell me about a blessing (or a good thing God has done for you) in your life? (allow many answers)
Do: Share a couple of your own blessings. [I shared how I've been writing down my blessings for the last few years and numbering them. I am close to 2,000!]
Ask: Who can tell me an example of how they have been ablessing to someone
else? (allow many answers)
Do: Share an example from your life. Then read the line in the instruct
ion sheet: “Blessings are actions that show God’s love. (You can be God’s hands and feet!)”
Ask: What does it mean to be God’s hands and feet? Why do people have to be God’s hands and feet?
Other topics for possible discussion:
Did God’s promises to Abraham come true?
- (Many descendants! Do a family tree: Isaac → Esau & Jacob→ Joseph et al.
- A blessing to others: Jesus is descendant of Abraham.
Did God’s promises to Abraham come true very quickly? (no! Abraham & Sarah waited 25 years to have their promised son Isaac)
These promises that God made to Abram seemed ridiculous. Why? (because he and his wife were old!)
What should you do if you hear from God and the message sounds ridiculous? (pray about it, ask for guidance, for clarity)
What do you suppose kept Abram/Abraham going for 25 years? (his strong faith! Faith is believing in God when it looks ridiculous)
Do you suppose that Abraham always trusted God without any doubts?
Throughout our story we read of Abram building altars to worship God. Abram built these altars as a reminder of God’s promises. How does the idea of writing down and storing your blessings in a box like building an altar? (is a way of worshiping God)
We had discussed how “testament” meant “promise” – so that we could say we have the “old promise” and the “new promise.” The old promise is the promises that God made to Abram. What is the new promise? (what Jesus did for us means that we have forgiveness, 2nd chances, and God always with us)
Do you suppose that we can be a blessing to someone, without them knowing it? Discuss the gift of giving blessings anonymously.
Do: Remind the students to put the blessing cards inside the box, and close the class by blessing them: “Go out into the world knowing you are special in God’s eyes!” (Or, feel free to use you own favorite blessing!)
If you have extra time:
Have the students use their blessing paper slips to begin to write down their blessings in their own lives. They are welcome to additional Blessings cards if they need them.
Other resources: Visit Carol's blog – where we encourage parents to continue the learning at home.
(Conflict of Interest Disclosure: None. Carol does not make any money from her blog. Any ads you see are placed by Wordpress.)
A lesson written by Chris Steinman Nelson and Carol Hulbert from: First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI
Copyright 2013 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI. Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material.
If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Nelson, Chris Steinman and Carol Hulbert. "Abraham & Sarah: Art Workshop." Nov. 2013. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.
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