It’s summer! This series of children’s messages will connect you with families through conversations about camping and the great outdoors. Perhaps you have experienced summer camp and the memories of family adventures that connect kids to nature and God. For more information regarding camping and resources used in the creation of this series, visit umcrm.camp, The United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries Association (UMCRM). Another excellent resource is Climate Hero Handbook: How Kids Can Defend, Protect, and Restore the Planet by Jennifer Manley Rogers and Jessica Gamache.
Use this series throughout the summer months to reinforce biblical learnings and faith formation, combined with imagery that represents memorable summertime adventures. Each week provides imagery of a camping “object.” Consider dressing the part and bringing props to reinforce the camping illustrations.
The final part of this summer’s three-part worship series will include another powerful memory from summer camp—stargazing with evenings spent looking up in the clear night sky. In this final part of this summer’s series, you are encouraged to teach children (and their parents) an evening poem/prayer for use before bed each night. Encourage the children to recite this evening prayer at the conclusion of each children’s message and invite them to say it with their families each night during the week as well.
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year A: Seeds in the Dirt
Genesis 25:29-34a, NIRV
29One day Jacob was cooking some stew. Esau came in from the open country. He was very hungry. 30He said to Jacob, “Quick! I’m very hungry! Let me have some of that red stew!” That’s why he was also named Edom.
31Jacob replied, “First sell me the rights that belong to you as the oldest son in the family.”
32“Look, I’m dying of hunger,” Esau said. “What good are those rights to me?”
33But Jacob said, “First promise to sell me your rights.” So Esau promised to do it. He sold Jacob all the rights that belonged to him as the oldest son.
34Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. Esau ate and drank. Then he got up and left.
So Esau didn’t value the rights that belonged to him as the oldest son.
New International Reader's Version (NIRV) Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Campfire pot or cast-iron frying pan
Jacob and Esau were twin sons of Isaac and his wife, Rebekah. Esau was a few minutes older than Jacob. In those days, the oldest son had certain rights that the other children in the family didn’t have. For example, the oldest son might receive a special blessing. When parents died, the oldest son would receive more of the property that had belonged to them. In this story from the book of Genesis, Esau bought some bread and stew. He didn’t pay with money but with his birthright. That stew cost Esau a lot. Giving up his birthright was a HUGE deal. I wonder if you have ever had to give up something that was especially important to you. Would a couple of you like to share? (Allow children to share their examples.)
Esau was hungry and weak. Jacob took advantage of Esau’s hunger and bought his birthright. When you are hungry, you may also be very cranky and angry. In fact, we have a word for it. We call it “hangry.” Hangry is when we are irritable when we are hungry. There are television commercials that mention hangry. By a show of hands, how many of you have either been hangry or have seen someone become hangry?
I have a pot that we could use at our campsite. When you are camping, you cook many over the open flame of a campfire. Sometimes, we even use sticks found in the woods to roast marshmallows or put hot dogs on the ends to cook over the flames of the campfire. Cooking while camping is essential so that we don’t become “hangry.” In fact, I might even consider it a blessing to have food to cook (and share) around our campfire. These are blessings provided to us by God, and we don’t have to give up anything to receive those blessings. How awesome is that?
After the meal, and while the campfire slowly begins to go out, our focus shifts to the dark cloudless sky as we notice the stars shining brightly above us. We are reminded of how big God is. Isaiah, a prophet in the Old Testament, invites us to gaze at the stars for a while. Why? Because when we do, we will consider that since God created every solitary star and knows them by name, God also knows each one of us by name. This is just one example of how much God cares for us!
For the past few weeks, I shared a poem that we prayed each morning to remind us that God is always with us. We shared those prayers every morning with our families. Today, and for the coming weeks, I invite you to share an evening prayer with your family each night before bedtime. Look out your window, gaze at the stars, and remember how awesome God is and how much God cares for us as you say the following words from Isaiah 40:26 (NIRV).
Will you repeat after me?
“Look up toward the sky.
Who created everything you see?
The Lord causes the stars to come out at night one by one.
God calls out each one of them by name.”
I pray for each person in my family in the same way.
I see a star in the night sky, and I pray for ____
I see a star in the night sky, and I pray for ____
(Invite children to pray for every family member, individually naming them. You can encourage them to name extended family members or even church family members.)