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Very Near to You (Commandments 2)

August 20, 2010

This is the second lesson in the Commandments unit. It briefly revisits the ten commandments and then introduces the Summary of the Law (or the Greatest Commandment). It is another (but simpler) craft activity – the next lesson will change it up with a wide game.

Things to know about this lesson:

  • The Introduce the Activity section varies slightly, depending on whether or not you have already taught the Commandments lesson.
  • The craft could be improved by using something sturdier than construction paper for the pendants, if you are up for it. Heart shaped beads of different colours or even clay of some sort would be wonderful.

Very Near to You

Materials

  • cardstock
  • crayons/markers/pencil crayons
  • sharp pencil or pin
  • yarn

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:

Do you have to follow any rules that don’t seem to make sense? Things that someone else decided was important but you don’t really know why? Can you think of any examples? (perhaps cultural norms or rules of etiquette – no hats indoors, for example)

But are some of the rules that people give you obvious – things you could think of by yourself if you took the time? Can you think of examples? (no hitting, no stealing, no cheating, etc.)

Our story today is part of a talk that Moses gave the Israelites, explaining that God’s commandments are the kind of rules that make sense. Listen and see what he says about them.


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

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)

If applicable, draw everyone’s attention to the ten commandment flower and go over the commandments again.

If you do not have the commandment flower from Commandments, ask the students if they can name some of the commandments that they think Moses was talking about. Write down the resulting brainstorm. Make sure the ten commandments get listed.

Point out that some of the commandments have to do with our relationship to God and some have to do with how we treat other people. Ask the students to identify some examples of each.

Introduce the Activity

Today we are going to talk about a way to summarize the commandments. This summary was given to us by Jesus when he was asked what the most important commandment was. There are two parts:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength. and Love your neighbour as yourself.

What do the two parts have in common? (they’re both about loving)

Who are we commanded to love? (God, neighbour, self)

If we really love God and our neighbour and our self, then we will keep the commandments because the commandments are already things we know are good. Of course, it can be hard to love properly all the time and sometimes we forget what we know. Today, we are going to make necklaces to wear near our hearts, where we know the commandments.

Trios of Hearts

Distribute cardstock, pencils, scissors, and tape. Invite students to cut out three small hearts – one for God, one for their neighbour, and one for themselves. They can decorate the hearts with pictures that make them think of the three loves or they could just colour them each a different colour. When they are done, use a sharp pencil or a pin to make a hole large enough for the students to thread their hearts onto a loop of yarn big enough that the heart pendants will be near the wearer’s heart.

Regrouping

Ask everyone to put on their necklaces. Help them remember the Summary of the Law, touching each heart as each love is identified in the commandments.

If you have the ten commandments flower, you could write the summary into the stem or otherwise incorporate it into the picture.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the gift of Your commandments. Help us to remember that they are not far away or difficult to understand but that they are in our own hearts. Help us to love you, our neighbours, and ourselves. Amen.

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