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Bible passage: Genesis 24
Background: This story is a nice one to tell with children, as they can easily understand the narrative. We can see God guiding the story through the servant’s actions, Rebekah’s response and her faith in agreeing to travel for days and days to a new land to marry Isaac (whom she has never met). Read the story again yourself, as if for the first time, and wonder at the work of God through the lives of the people in the narrative.
As they arrive, invite the children to sit down with you in a circle. Share out any refreshments you have and ask them about their week. Share in their excitements and disappointments, and enjoy being a group together. Chat about any weddings the children have been to. What were those weddings like? Were they exciting? Boring? Has anyone played a part in a wedding?
You will need: ‘travelling’ dressing-up clothes, such as coats, scarves and boots; small suitcases and rucksacks
Show the children the travelling dressing-up clothes you have brought and ask them to imagine they are going on a journey. What would they wear? What would they take? Let the children play with the clothes and then walk around your space, pretending they are going on a long trip.
Play together and share any journeys you have been on. What were they like? Where did you go? Did you know where you were going, or was it a surprise? Play for as long as you have time for, and as long as the children are interested.
You will need: play figures; map; two soft-toy camels; sand in a bag; water and jug; gold bracelets and rings
Sit the children in a circle and have all your props close at hand so you can produce them at the right time in the story:
Abraham was married to Sarah and they had a son called Isaac. Place three play figures in the centre of the circle. Sarah and Abraham were very old, and one day Sarah died. Carefully remove one the of the figures and sensitively place it out of sight. Abraham and Isaac were very sad. Pause. Isaac was growing up and Abraham realised it was almost time for Isaac to get married.
So, Abraham sent for his servant. Put a new play figure next to Abraham and Isaac. “Go to the land where I was born and find a wife for Isaac there,” said Abraham.
“But that’s a long way away!” said the servant. Get out the map and pass it round the circle, and explain how maps help us find our way to places that are far away.
“I know,” replied Abraham. “But this is what we should do.”
The servant got his things ready and packed everything on the back of some camels. Move Abraham and Isaac out of the circle, place one camel next to the servant and pass the other round the circle for the children to look at. He travelled for a long time across the desert. Pass the bag of sand around the circle, inviting the children to put their hand in and feel the sand. Move the camel and the servant around the circle as if they are walking. Finally, he found the place where Abraham’s brother lived and stopped by a well; a place where people came to get water.
The servant prayed to God: “Let me find a wife for Isaac today. If a woman comes to the well, I’ll ask her for a drink. If she gets me one, and also gives water to my camels, I’ll know she’s the one.” Pass round the glass of water and the jug, helping the children not to spill it.
And do you know what? That’s exactly what happened! A woman called Rebekah came to the well and helped the servant. Place another play figure next to the servant. The servant gave her the gold jewellery he had brought as gifts. Pass round the gold jewellery.
When the servant had told Rebekah and her family why he had come, and what he had asked God, Rebekah agreed to go with him. They travelled back across the desert to where Abraham and Isaac were waiting. Move the servant and Rebekah around and return Abraham and Isaac to the circle. Make them all ‘meet up’ together in the centre. Rebekah and Isaac were married and they loved each other very much.
Ask the children these questions, giving everyone a chance to respond if they would like to:
- What’s your favourite part of the story?
- Have you ever been on a long journey?
- How do you think Abraham and Isaac felt when Rebekah came? How do you think Rebekah felt?
You will need: different coloured poster paint, mixed with sand; paintbrushes; paper; clean-up and cover-up equipment
Give the children a sheet of paper each and show them how to paint with the different colours of sandy paint. Remind them that the servant had to travel a long way across the desert to find Isaac someone to marry. Let the children paint whatever they wish and, as you work, chat further about the story and the issues the children would like to discuss.
You will need: play figures
Give the children a play figure each and ask them to hold it. This will act as a spiritual focus as they pray. Ask them to think about today’s story. What would they like to say to God about the story? Encourage them to think about this quietly. Then ask them to think about what they would like to ask God for. Invite them to talk about that with God now, either out loud or in their heads. Finally, finish with a prayer thanking God that he is in control and guiding us.
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