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Commandments (Commandments 1)

August 20, 2010

I decided to treat the topic of commandments using Deuteronomy 30:11-19 rather than a the list of the ten commandments themselves. Not only is Deut 30:11-19 more fun to read, it offers a theological context in which to locate the idea of commandments as a gift – an idea that may be rather foreign to many of our students. Deut 30:11-19 is also in conversation with many of the ideas addressed later in the year, particular with some of the Lent and Easter themes.

This lesson looks at the Ten Commandments. The next looks at the Summary of the Law. The third looks at Moses’ call to “choose life”.

Things to know about this lesson:

  • You will need to prepare the elements for the flower the class will construct together. This is not complicated but it will take a few minutes.

Commandments

Materials

  • five to ten large sheets of paper, prepared with the outline of one or two flower petals (you need ten petals in total)
  • a circle of paper (for the centre of the flower)
  • a paper stem
  • paints (ideally) or crayons/markers
  • scissors
  • thumbtacks or other means for assembling the flower on the wall/bulletin board

Open with prayer. (see tip sheet)

Introduce the Story

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)

Do you always want to follow the rules that people give you?

Have you ever been told “It’s for your own good”?

Why do people say that following rules is “for your own good”? (because rules keep us safe; because rules help us get along with each other; because rules help us treat other people well)

God’s commandments are these kind of rules – the kind that make us better people and make our world a better place. Following them is for our own good because following them helps us live well.

Our story today is part of a talk that Moses gave the Israelites, explaining why they should follow God’s commandments. He basically tells them “Because it’s for your own good”.

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.

Discussion

What choice does Moses say the people have? (life or death)

What do they have to do to choose life? (follow the commandments)

Where are the commandments? (in their mouths and on their hearts)

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

Can you think of some of the commandments?

Write down the everything the students suggest. Either during or after the brainstorm, draw out the ten commandments and put them on a separate paper. You may have to simply supply some of them.

Introduce the Activity

Go through the list of the ten commandments and make sure that everyone’s understands them. Explain that you are going to work together to make a flower with the ten commandments on its petals.

Why would we make a flower with the commandments? What do flowers make you think of? (looking for “life”)

Commandment Flower

Distribute prepared sheets of painting paper (or drawing paper), paints and brushes (or crayons/markers). Invite students to make beautiful, multi-coloured petals. When they are done, help them cut the petals out and put the flower together on the wall or bulletin board.

Regrouping

Admire your completed flower. Help the students remember the ten commandments, writing one on each petal as it is identified.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the gift of Your commandments. Help us to follow them every day in everything we do. Amen.

I decided to treat the topic of commandments using Deuteronomy 30:11-19 rather than a the list of the ten commandments themselves. Not only is Deut 30:11-19 more fun to read, it offers a theological context in which to locate the idea of commandments as a gift – an idea that may be rather foreign to many of our students. Deut 30:11-19 is also in conversation with many of the ideas addressed later in the year, particular with some of the Lent and Easter themes.

This lesson looks at the Ten Commandments. The next looks at the Summary of the Law. The third looks at Moses’ injunction to “choose life”.

Things to know about this lesson:

  • You will need to prepare the elements for the flower the class will construct together. This is not complicated but it will take a few minutes.

Commandments

Materials

  • five to ten large sheets of paper, prepared with the outline of one or two flower petals (you need ten petals in total)

  • a circle of paper (for the centre of the flower)

  • a paper stem

  • paints (ideally) or crayons/markers

  • scissors

  • thumbtacks or other means for assembling the flower on the wall/bulletin board

Open with prayer. (see tip sheet)

Introduce the Story

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)

Do you always want to follow the rules that people give you?

Have you ever been told “It’s for your own good”?

Why do people say that following rules is “for your own good”? (because rules keep us safe; because rules help us get along with each other; because rules help us treat other people well)

God’s commandments are these kind of rules – the kind that make us better people and make our world a better place. Following them is for our own good because following them helps us live well.

Our story today is part of a talk that Moses gave the Israelites, explaining why they should follow God’s commandments. He basically tells them “Because it’s for your own good”.

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.

Discussion

What choice does Moses say the people have? (life or death)

What do they have to do to choose life? (follow the commandments)

Where are the commandments? (in their mouths and on their hearts)

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

Can you think of some of the commandments?

Write down the everything the students suggest. Either during or after the brainstorm, draw out the ten commandments and put them on a separate paper. You may have to simply supply some of them.

Introduce the Activity

Go through the list of the ten commandments and make sure that everyone’s understands them. Explain that you are going to work together to make a flower with the ten commandments on its petals.

Why would we make a flower with the commandments? What do flowers make you think of? (looking for “life”)

Commandment Flower

Distribute prepared sheets of painting paper (or drawing paper), paints and brushes (or crayons/markers). Invite students to make beautiful, multi-coloured petals. When they are done, help them cut the petals out and put the flower together.

Regrouping

Admire your completed flower. Help the students remember the ten commandments, writing one on each petal as it is identified.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the gift of Your commandments. Help us to always choose life. Amen.

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