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You are Standing on Holy Ground (Moses 3)

June 24, 2010

The final lesson on Moses and the burning bush invites students to consider the ways we recognize the holy in the context of our church services.  Most of our communities do not ask that people take their shoes off but we might bow to the altar before sitting or wear “church” clothes or make the sign of the cross.

The lesson can also be used to address the norms of your congregation with regards to behaviour or dress.  This can be useful if there is dissatisfaction with those norms or with children not meeting (reasonable) expectations.

Please do not think I am taking a position on how kids should dress or how silent they need to be.  Sharing any space with any number of other people is always a negotiation and church is no different.  I believe that children should be a part of that negotiation which means they need to know why people want decorum at the Communion rail and clean shirts in the pews.  If only there was a way to teach this lesson in reverse…

Things to know about this lesson:

  • Finger paint is wonderful!  The washable kind will not stain clothes or floors (but do wipe it up quickly) or skin and it is really fun to use.
  • The finger paint is optional.  If it is too messy for you or you don’t want to buy any, there is a perfectly fine alternative provided in the lesson plan.

You are Standing on Holy Ground


  • mural paper (kraft paper or white paper)
  • pencils, crayons, markers
  • (optional) finger paints, one shallow pan/colour, large bowls of water, towels

Open with prayer (see tip sheet)

Introduce the Story

If this is your first lesson (or your students’ first lesson) on Moses and the Burning Bush, see With God’s Help, the first lesson in the series, for an introduction to the character and situation of Moses.

If everyone present has heard that introduction, you may want to ask a few questions and refresh everyone’s memory before you move onto the following discussion:

What does the word “holy” mean? (sacred, special, dedicated to God)

Can you think of any holy places? (make sure church is at least mentioned)

How do we behave in holy places? (respectful, thoughtful, we think about God)

Moses found himself in a holy place without even knowing it. Let’s listen to the story.

Read the Story

Moses was taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep, taking them to places with lots of grass and fresh water. He took them up a mountain called Horeb, the mountain of God. While he was there, he saw the strangest thing – a bush was on fire but it was not getting burned up! It just kept blazing with the flames!

Moses said to himself, “I have to take a closer look and see why this bush isn’t being burned up”. When the Lord saw that Moses had come closer to the bush, he called to him, “Moses, Moses!” Moses answered, “Here I am!” Then the Lord said, “Don’t come any closer. Take off your sandals because you are standing on holy ground” .” Moses did as he was told, amazed at what was happening.

The Lord continued, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Once Moses realized who he was talking to, he hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.

Then God said to him, “I have seen how miserable my people, the Israelites, are in Egypt. I have heard them cry and I know that they are suffering. I have come to save them from slavery in Egypt and take them to a new and beautiful land where they can be safe and happy and where they will not be oppressed. I will send you to Pharoah, the king of Egypt, and you will bring my people out of his country.”

But Moses said, “But I am nobody special. Why would Pharoah listen to me? How am I supposed to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” God answered him, “I will be with you and when you and the Israelites have come out of Egypt you will worship me on this mountain.”

(Exodus 3:1-12)


What was the first thing God told Moses to do? (take off his shoes)

Why did God tell Moses to take off his shoes? (because he was on holy ground)

What kinds of special things are done or used or worn at church?  By everyone?  By the priest/servers/choir members/etc.?

Which of these things do you really like? Why?

Are there any you don’t like? Why don’t you like them?

Are there other things you would like to do or wear when you are in a holy place like church?

We do things or wear things like that because it’s easy to get distracted. We stop thinking about God and start thinking about what’s for lunch and how much fun we had yesterday and the fight we’re having with our brother or sister and how cold it’s getting. We do things like (use their examples) to help us stay focused and remind us that this is not just regular time but a holy time in a holy place.

Introduce the Activity

Today we are going to make a sign for the church. Everyone needs to take off their shoes and socks!

Holy Ground Foot Prints

Lay out a long piece of paper. Write (or have older students write) “You are Standing on Holy Ground” in large letters. Invite everyone to decorate the sign with footprints, using one the following options.

Option A

Use fingerpaint! Pour the paint into a shallow pan, big enough for one foot. Step in the paint, step on the paper, and step into a bowl of water to clean off the paint. It’s not as messy as it sounds, I promise!

Option B

Everyone traces someone else’s foot. The feet can then be coloured in, either by the print-owner or the foot-tracer.


Ask everyone to put their shoes and socks back on.

Post the sign at the entrance to the church or the Sunday school meeting space and gather around it for your closing prayer.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the gift of the church. May it always be a holy place where we are reminded of you. Amen.

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