In this series, we will learn the life lesson of the importance of having a relationship with God and discover how God sees a prophet in each of us. During this worship series, children will be introduced to several prophets from the Old Testament. A prophet is defined as someone who hears messages from God and tells those messages to others. This series will incorporate different modes of communication used over time for people to share their messages. A game designed as a hybrid of Bingo and Tic-Tac-Toe will invite children to learn historical means of communication and help them communicate better with family members throughout the summer and this series.
“God Speaks to Me, 1, 2, 3” Game
This game board resembles a Bingo card, but it has only nine squares. Each square contains an image correlated to a method of communication or hearing a message. Throughout history, the methods of sending messages have changed. Each week, a different method of sending a message will be introduced to children, At the conclusion of the series, children will receive their own game card, which gives them the opportunity to play the game with their family. In addition, playing the game at home will reinforce the lessons learned from this summer series.
The game is played just like Bingo, except for needing only three in a row to cover. Each box represents a different form of communication or sending and receiving messages. During each week of the series, a new mode (and image) will be introduced, and each image will have a coinciding scripture passage listed. This will encourage children and their families to play the game while remembering the scripture texts and lessons from the prophets.
Throughout the series, the leader of the children’s messages will have a game card to introduce both the scripture and the communication image. (A creative way to introduce the communication methods to the children is to have actual versions of the communication methods if you can locate them. For example, try to find a real rotary telephone or tin cans and string. Good luck locating a telegraph!) At the conclusion of the series, provide each child with several copies of the game card (each with a random order of images). One card will need to be cut into pieces to use like Bingo balls and randomly pulled from a cup or bowl. In the final week of the series, the leader will demonstrate how to play the game by giving instructions and playing one time with the children.
Items needed to play the game the last week include game cards with the nine images placed randomly on the page; one card of nine images cut into squares to place in a bowl or cup to “call” the image (like Bingo balls), and small objects to cover each square when the image is called. You also need to have the opportunity to share scripture stories to reinforce each week’s lesson.
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year C
Hosea 1:9-10, New International Reader's Version
Then the Lord said, “Name him Lo-Ammi.” Lo-Ammi means Not My People. “That’s because Israel is no longer my people. And I am no longer their God.
“But the time will come when the people of Israel will be like the sand on the seashore. It can’t be measured or counted. Now it is said about them, ‘You are not my people.’ But at that time, they will be called ‘children of the living God.’
What does a phone look like? (Allow children to describe a phone.) Do any of you recognize this? (Show children rotary telephone and allow them to respond.) This is a telephone. Long before the invention of the cell phone, these telephones were placed in families’ homes. Do any of you have an idea of how to use this type of telephone? (Allow a child to suggest ideas of operation. Then show children, as you describe step-by-step instructions for using a rotary telephone.)
When you would answer this phone, there was no caller ID, and you had no way of knowing who was calling you. You would pick up the receiver and say, “Hello.” The person on the other end would introduce himself or herself by stating a name. Names are important. Knowing someone’s name is important in building a good relationship.
Choosing a name for a new baby is an important decision. You live with that name for your entire life. Names are important. I wonder if any of you know how you got your name? Are you named after someone in your family? (Allow children to respond.) Sometimes a name is given after a quality the child’s parents hope the baby will have. Grace, Joy, and Hope are all examples of names like that.
Today’s story from the Bible is about the prophet Hosea. Remember what a prophet is? (Affirm the children’s responses.) That’s right. A prophet is someone who hears God’s message and tells others that message. This prophet’s son got a terrible name. In Hebrew, his name means, “Not my people.” God’s greatest promise to the people of Israel was “You will be my people, and I will be your God.” Hosea had said that Israel had not followed God’s laws and had worshiped other gods. Hosea’s son was a reminder that Israel acted as if were “not God’s people.”
It’s hard to speak about suffering or pain when you haven’t gone through it. It is often those who have experienced pain or suffering who can understand the suffering and pain of others. Sometimes a prophet’s voice is best heard when it comes from someone who has experienced suffering or pain that only God can heal.
Hosea learned that God’s love and forgiveness are stronger than Israel’s mistakes. Hosea said that the people of Israel could look forward to a day when God would bless them and Israel again could be called “children of the living God.”
Wouldn’t it be funny, if when answering the telephone, when someone says “Hello, to whom am I speaking?”, we answer by saying, “I am a child of God.” I wonder what the person on the other end would say. What a great way to remind us of what we can learn from Hosea: We are all called children of God.
God of communication: Whatever names our parents gave us, help us always remember that our real name is “child of God.” Sometimes we may act as if we are not your people. Forgive us. Show us again how to live in love and faithfulness to you. Amen.