Memory Verse: “Name your son Lo-ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”
Items for Preparation:
- Be sure you are wearing your wedding ring. If you don’t have one, borrow one and wear it just for your children’s sermon.
- Have something that represents baby names, such as a birth certificate, a baby hat, rattle, toy, diaper bag or shirt with the name of a baby on it who is known to your children,
Background: Read the adult lesson in the print edition of Nurturing Faith and additional material online. Most of the ideas in the book of Hosea are rated at least PG-13 if not R, so we want to tread carefully. Let’s focus on the idea of being faithful to one’s family, and God’s anger at Israel’s unfaithfulness.
[Display your baby-name items.]
Say: I have some things here that you might also have at home – or your Mom or Dad probably has them saved in a box somewhere. When you were born, how did your parents decide what to name you? Who knows where your name came from? [Allow for answers.]
Say: Usually when a baby comes, the parents have thought ahead of time about what they want the baby’s name to be. Doctors and nurses can help them know, even before the baby is born, whether it will be a boy or a girl. So they are ready with a name when the baby comes!
Say: Long ago, about 730 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Hosea was living in Israel and Hosea married a woman named Gomer. What do you think of her name? [Allow for responses and maybe laughing.]
Say: I know! Pretty funny name for a woman. But that was the name her parents gave her. She married Hosea, and they had several children. But Hosea was a prophet, a very faithful man who prayed and listened for the word that God would say to him. Hosea began to understand that God had a message for the people in Israel. It was a little like the messages that Amos had brought. Remember the warning about people living with justice? Well, Hosea had a message from God that was very similar.
Say: God wanted the people in Israel to know how unhappy God was because they had stopped being faithful to God. What does it mean to be faithful? [Allow for answers]
Say: Faithfulness is being honest and loyal to other people. It is being trustworthy. If you are faithful, then you care about the person you are faithful to, and you would never do anything on purpose to hurt them. Do you have someone you know who is faithful? [Allow for answers.]
Say: Your parents are probably faithful to you, and you are faithful to them. People talk about dogs being faithful – and that’s because your dog knows and loves you and will always come to you instead of going to a stranger. We think of married people being faithful to each other – and that’s the reason they wear wedding rings. The wedding ring is the symbol that shows people love each other and are faithful to each other. You are faithful to your family. You are also faithful to your friends. Maybe you are faithful to your school, or your team, and you are faithful to our church, and you are faithful to God. Being faithful is a wonderful thing for all of us. It feels good to share faithfulness!
Say: So Hosea’s message, which he heard from God, and which he gave to the people Israel, was that God felt the people were not faithful to God anymore. God asked Hosea and Gomer to name each of their babies as they were born, to give a message to Israel. God said to name the first one “Jezreel,” which means “God prepares.” The next child was to be named “Lo-ruhamah,” which means “Nobody will have any sympathy or pity for you.” And the next one was to be named “Lo-ammi,” which means “not my people,” because that is what God was thinking about Israel. They were not God’s people anymore. They were unfaithful.
Say: It’s a good thing that your parents are faithful to God, and instead of naming you to give a message of unfaithfulness, they had happy ideas about how to give you a name when you were born!
Prayer: Say these words after I say them.
O Mighty God,
Thank you for your word
Which comes from your prophets.
Let us listen well.
Let us be faithful to you
So that we may be faithful Jesus-followers
In Jesus’ name, Amen.