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BIBLE PASSAGE: Joshua 3-4
BACKGROUND: This passage marks the crossing of the boundary into the Promised Land and parallels the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14-15). God reminds the Israelites of his promises and faithfulness in this passage. He renews their faith and strengthens them ahead of the next challenge. The focus in this session is on their remembering God’s faithfulness, helping the children to reflect and do this in their own lives.
Invite the children to sit together in a circle and encourage them to share stories from their week. Celebrate any birthdays or special events. It can be helpful to have an object or cuddly toy to pass around for the children to hold as they speak. Ask them: “What do you do to help you remember things?” Thank God that he is with you, and ask him to help you learn more about him today.
You will need: paper; felt-tip pens or crayons; collage materials
Ask the children what they are thankful for today. You might need to give them some examples, such as the people who look after them, food or friends at playgroup, nursery or your church group. Can they think of a really special memory, maybe from a time when they knew that God was with them? Invite the children to make a collage picture to help them remember and to thank God for it.
You will need: twelve stones made from scrunched-up paper; a washing-up bowl (or other big container) filled with water; an empty bowl of the same size; towels Before the session, hide the twelve stones around the room. Gather the children together and tell this story:
Joshua was the leader of the Israelites, God’s people. Joshua and the Israelites were almost in the land that God had promised them, but first they needed to cross the Jordan River. The river lay between them and the land.
Joshua got his people ready to cross the river. They camped next to the river for three days, just as God had told them to. All lie down and pretend to be asleep.
The river was so full of water that it was flooded. The water was so deep that they wouldn’t have been able to walk across.
Mime walking through water.
God told Joshua to tell the people that the priests were going to carry the Ark of the Covenant (a wooden chest covered in gold, where they kept the Ten Commandments) and lead the people through the water.
He told the priests to step into the flowing water, and that if they did so the water would stop flowing. Invite the children, in turn, to take their shoes off and step into the bowl of water. You could also use a jug and pour water over their feet.
When they did this the water stopped and the Israelites walked through to the other side. Invite the children to dry their feet and then step into the empty bowl. How do the two bowls feel?
The priests stayed standing in the empty river while everyone else crossed over. God told Joshua to tell twelve men to collect stones from the ground where the priests were standing. Challenge the children to find your hidden ‘stones’.
When the priests carried on walking the river carried on flowing. Pour water into your empty container to represent the flowing water.
They brought the stones into their camp and built a memorial so they could remember what God had done and remember to tell people for years to come. Invite them to place the stones on top of one another.
This story is a lot like when God stopped the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape from the Egyptians. God was reminding his people of how he had been with them before, was still with them at this time, and would be with them as they went into the land he had promised them.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute (use your object or cuddly toy if you passed one around earlier):
- What was your favourite part of the story?
- How do you think the Israelites felt when the river was flowing too quickly to cross?
- How do you think it felt to see the water stop flowing?
- What did the Israelites do to help them remember the way God had been with them?
- What do you do to remember that God is with you? (Share an example from your own life.)
You will need: jelly; a long plate or piece of new, clean guttering; spoons
Before the session, create a jelly river by filling a long plate or length of guttering.
Divide the group into two teams or do this activity all together, depending on how many children you have, and invite the children to sit around the jelly river. Ask them questions about today’s session and story. Every time someone gets an answer right they can all eat a spoonful of jelly until it’s clear to cross! Chat about how exciting it is to be able to cross over. How did the people of God feel about crossing the river?
If you have children with allergies, or you want to do it without introducing food, you could sip or scoop out some water each time instead.
You will need: stones or building blocks Remind the group that the people of God created a memorial out of stones so they could remember how he had looked after them. Invite the children to build their own group memorial, with each person placing a stone or block in a central pile. Invite them to say thank you to God for something he has done as they place them down.
Finish by saying: “Thank you, God, that you are with us, that you have been with us in the past and that you will be with us in the future.”
For the rest of this month’s sessions go to youthandchildrens.work/together
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