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Choose Life (Commandments 3)

August 20, 2010

The activity in this lesson will be repeated during Lent in the unit on the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. This repetition makes a theological point but I do not think it needs to be made explicit to the students. It is my belief that those who attend both lessons will register the repetition of the message at some level.

Things to know about this lesson:

  • You need a decent amount of open space to play the running game.

Choose Life

Open with prayer. (see tip sheet)

Introduce the Story

If necessary, repeat the following (from Commandments):

If you have students who were present for lessons on Moses and the Burning Bush, ask them to recap who Moses was. Make sure these key points get mentioned, either by them or by you.

Moses was an Israelite who was given a difficult job by God. He was supposed to lead all the Israelites out of Egypt, where they were slaves, and take them through the wilderness to a new home.

During their journey, God gave Moses commandments for the people and it was Moses job to make sure the people understood and followed the commandments.

Does anyone know what a commandment is? (a law, a rule)

The following is specific to this lesson:

There are some things in the world that make life better – we can call them “life-giving” – and some things that make life worse – we can call them death-dealing. Can you think of some life-giving things? (love, friends, family, nature, sports, good food, etc) What are some death-dealing things? (sickness, pollution, fighting, etc.)

Our story today is part of a talk that Moses gave the Israelites about how the commandments that God gave are life-giving.

Read the Story

Surely this commandment that I am giving you today is not too hard for you to follow. It is not that far away. It is not in heaven – you don’t need to find someone to go to heaven and bring the commandment back for you to study it. It is not far across the sea – you don’t need someone to cross to the other side of the sea and bring it back for you to study. The word, the commandment, is very near to you. It is so close it is in your own mouth and your own heart so you can easily study it.

Today I have given you a choice between life and well-being, death and difficulty. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am giving you, walking in his way and paying attention to how God has taught you how to live, then you will live well and your community will grow. The Lord your God will bless you in your new land.

But if your heart turns away and you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God but instead worship other gods, you will die before you live long in your new land across the Jordan River. I call heaven and earth to see that I have given you a choice between life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your children and your children’s children may live.

Deuteronomy 30:11-19.


Where does Moses say the commandments are NOT? (in heaven; across the sea)

Where does he say that they are? (in the mouths and hearts of the people)

What does that mean? (that people can understand them; that they know them)

When people follow these commandments, what does Moses say they are choosing? (life) What are they choosing if they don’t follow the commandments? (death)

Sometimes, we can’t choose between life-giving and death-dealing things. For example, people don’t choose to get sick but sometimes they do anyways. But there are lots of times when we and other people can choose. For example, we can choose whether we fight with someone or whether we talk over our problems peacefully. What are some other things we can choose between?

(e.g. littering vs recycling, telling the truth vs lying; ignoring strangers vs welcoming them; sharing vs hoarding; cutting down forests vs planting trees; racism vs treating everyone equally)

Introduce the Activity

We’re going to use our bodies to choose between life-giving things and death-dealing things. This side of the room is the Say Yes to Life Side. This side (the other side) is the Say No to Death Side. I will call out something and you have to decide which side of the room to run to. For example, if I say ignoring God’s commandments, you would run, as fast as you can, to the….Say No to Death Side.

Play the Game

After each call, bring the students back to the centre. Don’t simply alternate back and forth – try to keep them guessing as to which direction they will have to run next. Here are some call suggestions:

racism, fear, hate, joy. family, war, love, security/safety
violence, lying, fun, lonliness, good food, hunger, friends, jealousy
forgiveness, trees, pollution, cheating, God, trust, sharing, welcoming


Gather the students and congratulate them on their speed.

That was an easy and fun way to say that we choose life. It’s not always so easy in real life, though. Forgiving people instead of fighting with them, sharing things instead of keeping them for yourself, telling the truth instead of lying – those are all ways of choosing life and rejecting death but they can be very hard to do. God gave us commandments to help us make the right choice. Let’s say a prayer thanking God and asking for help as we try to always choose life.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the gift of your commandments. Help us to always follow Your word so that we will always choose life. Amen.

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