Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lesson 4: Tracking Abraham

Lesson 4: Abraham and his Traveling Shoes

I wanted to show our students how God’s people were on the move in the Old Testament, how they went from place to place, and never quite found home. JC made maps of the Levant, simple outlines where land and water met, and we stapled tracing paper over top of them. We asked the kids to take turns reading the account of Abraham’s life. Each place that was mentioned, we stopped and put a star sticker on the tracing paper over the map. We traced his route with colored pencils. We talked about God’s promise to Abraham—it’s pretty unbelievable, God promises him over and over that he will be the father of great nations, and yet he grows older without any children. Finally, he has Ishmael, and later Isaac, who was so unlikely that God’s prophecy made Sarah laugh.

Abraham trusted God to do the basically impossible; he followed him unflagging through miles of desert. God asks us to believe something equally impossible: that our sins are forgotten, washed away with the blood of our Savior and the waters of our baptism.

The geography of the Levant surprised our students, I think. Iraq has been in the news a great deal lately. I asked them if they knew where Canaan was. None of them did. Had they heard of Iraq? They had. Iraq is basically where all these things took place, a very long time ago. Iraq, Israel, Palestine, and Egypt. A little bit of Syria and Lebanon. Those places you hear about on the news, the places where we are at war—those places are the places where God spoke to men and promised them great things.”

The kids thought about that a while. Then Ali, ever the skeptic, raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?”

“Yes, seriously. It was a very, very long time ago.”

I don’t think they understood why we were building these maps, but later, when we added pages for Jacob and for Moses, lining up the tracing paper, seeing how town names changed, they began to get it. They could see things happening in the same places at different times, and they liked that.

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