Known by Name

Pressing On

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

The word for today is presence: God’s abiding and constant presence — not a random, “force-like” presence that just is. This is an intimate presence, a personal presence, a presence that knows your name. What a proclamation to bring this week! You are known. In our over-mediated society, it is often the individual who gets lost in the mass of voices and noise that surrounds us. There are many in your congregation who can attest to feeling lonely in a crowd. This week could be an antidote to those feelings.

Note to the Teacher

One of the central concepts in the passage today is the presence of God. God is asking Moses to do something (and go through something) difficult as he leads them to the Promised Land. Moses wants to know who will be with him so that he is not alone in this task. God answers that God will go with him. As we seek to press on in our faith, we know that we are never alone. God is with us.

1. Ice Breaker: Pyramid of You (10 minutes)

  • Give each student a piece of paper and invite each person to cut out four equilateral (every side is the same length) triangles. If you want to help students along, pre-print the triangles on the piece of paper. Once students have finished, tell them they are going to get to know four other people in the group better by learning three things about them.
  • Students will have ninety seconds to pair up, share three things about each person in the pair, and write them down on one of the triangles (one triangle per person). The students can write what they have learned on each edge of the triangle. The students are to repeat this exercise with three other people.
  • Bring the students back together and ask them to tape their triangles into a pyramid. Once everyone has a pyramid constructed, instruct the students to roll their pyramids like a dice and share the information on the side that lands face-down.

2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)

Read Exodus 33:12-23.

3. Discussion (15 minutes)

  • God was calling Moses to lead the Jewish people through something difficult (crossing the wilderness into the Promised Land). Leading can be lonely. Tell the story of a time when you were a leader and felt lonely.
  • Moses didn’t want to do it alone and asked who would help him. Share a story of a time when you were leading, and other people helped you.
  • God’s response to Moses this time was not to give him another person, but to tell Moses that Moses would not be alone because God would be with him. This is still true today. We are never alone. How can this knowledge help us when we are having a difficult time?
  • What can you do to remind yourself that God is with you throughout your day?

4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)

God is always with us, but the challenge of faith sometimes is remembering that God is with us when we are having a difficult time. Today, we are going to make some soft “puffs” that will be a reminder of God’s presence. Students can hang these from their door handles or their backpacks or wherever they need them as a reminder of God’s presence.

Give each student a ball of yarn and scissors. Cut a piece of yarn that is a couple of feet long; set it aside. Explain to students that you are going to share stories of when you felt God’s presence in your lives. As students do that, they will take the remaining yarn and wind it around the four fingers of one hand making a thick loop of yarn.

Once students have finished their stories and have finished winding the yarn, instruct them to take the scissors and cut the ends of the loop to create a bunch of tiny pieces of yarn. Finally, tell students to take the long piece of yard and tie it tightly across the middle of the tiny pieces to create a small “puff.”

Total time: 50 minutes

Needed resources:

  • One roll of yarn per student
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Tape

In This Series...

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Reformation Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes