Bible passage: Genesis 11:27-12:9; 13:14-18
Key verse: “The Lord had said to Abram: ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you’” Genesis 12:1.
PRAYER AND WORSHIP ACTIVITY
You will need: pieces of card with the questions below written on them
Before the session, write or print these questions and sentences onto pieces of card:
- Tell the group about a long journey you have been on.
- What do you prefer to use: a map, a satnav or your own sense of direction? Why?
- Tell the group about a big change that happened in your life (for example: a new job, moving schools or moving house).
- Have you ever started to do something without knowing how it would turn out? What was it like?
As people arrive, invite them to form small groups and give each group some question cards. Encourage them to chat about their answers together in their group. After five minutes, invite the groups to share something they have been talking about.
You will need: a volunteer who has stepped out into the unknown for God
Before the session, find someone in your congregation who has followed God’s call and gone somewhere or done something for him that was uncertain at the start. At the beginning of your service, invite your volunteer to the front and ask them questions about their experiences. What was it like to step out into the unknown? What gave them the confidence to do it? If the congregation has any questions, encourage them to ask those. Don’t worry if any seem a bit left-field. Let your volunteer answer them anyway!
You will need: coats, bags and suitcases; several large cardboard boxes
Put on a coat, pick up a bag and say that you’re going to go on a long journey. Ask for some volunteers to join you. These could be primed beforehand or spur-of-the-moment volunteers. Help your volunteers put on coats and get some luggage, and then set off around your meeting space. Tell the following story as you go:
Thousands of years ago, there lived a man called Abram. He had a wife called Sarai. One day, Abram’s father, Terah, announced that they were all going to move house, from the city of Ur to the land of Canaan. This was a long way, and it would take a long time. They packed everything they had and set off. They followed the great river Euphrates and eventually got to the city of Harran. This was only about halfway to Canaan, but Terah decided that he would settle there.
Invite everyone to put their bags down, and ask two or three of your volunteers to take their coats off and sit down.
But God spoke to Abram. He said: “Go from your father’s home to the place I will show you. You’re going to be the father of a great nation!”
Abram was very old, and he didn’t have any children, but he trusted God anyway. He left his father’s house and set out across the desert towards Canaan.
Go with the volunteers who are still wearing their coats to another part of your meeting space.
Abram, Sarai, their nephew Lot and the rest of the household travelled on. It was a long, hard journey, but finally they came to Canaan, to a place called Shechem. There God appeared to Abram and said: “To your offspring I will give this land.” Abram was so happy that God had met with him that he built an altar to God.
Ask your volunteers to build a monument out of half of the boxes.
Abram, Sarai and their household carried on towards the hills to the east of a place called Bethel. He built another altar there and called on the name of the Lord.
Ask your volunteers to build another monument with the rest of the boxes.
Finally, they came to the great trees of Mamre at Hebron. God appeared to Abram once more, saying: “All of this land is yours!” Abram set up his tent and settled down.
Encourage your volunteers to take off their coats and sit down.
You will need: a simple labyrinth marked out on the floor (you could do this outside) - there are many examples online
Show the congregation your labyrinth and encourage them to walk around the maze in small groups. Point out that the idea is not to find your way through as quickly as possible, but to use the journey as a way to chat and listen to God. Invite the groups to stop along the way and ask God to be with them in various aspects of their lives. Remind everyone that Abram trusted God, even though he wasn’t sure where he would end up. In which parts of your lives do you need to trust God?
You will need: small boxes (empty matchboxes are ideal), enough for one per person
Give out the boxes and remind the congregation of the altars Abram built along his journey. Comment that many people at this time believed that a god could only be a god in their own land. However, God proves that he is God everywhere! Ask the congregation to think about parts of their lives where they need to trust God. After a few moments, invite everyone to place their box at the front of your space, making an altar as they do. Finish this time off with a prayer, thanking God for being with us all the time, even in the unknown.
GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Divide into mixed-aged groups and encourage everyone to answer these questions:
- Why do you think Abram trusted God?
- Are there times in your life when you have had to trust God? Share that with the group.
- Are you facing uncertain times? What do you want to say to God?