Memory Verse: “They shall go after the LORD, who roars like a lion; when he roars, his children shall come trembling…”
Items for Preparation:
- Gather some photos of animals we’d consider fierce and threatening, such as lions, bears, tigers, other big cats. If you have stuffed versions of these, that’s even better. If you have enough stuffed animals for each kid in your group to hold one during your children’s sermon, that’s excellent. Did I hear you say “yard sale?”
Background: Read the adult lesson in the print edition of Nurturing Faith and additional material online. We’ll continue to teach the story of Hosea’s prophecy and this point in the book of Hosea when God has softened toward Israel. We want to show that it is love which causes us to be in right relationship with God.
[Display your stuffed animals. If you have enough for each child to hold one, hand them out and then take them back again when you are finished.]
Say: We have lots of wild animals with us! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! I bet you have seen some of these real animals in a zoo. Maybe you have seen a bear walking around your neighborhood. Maybe that bear was a mama who had cubs with her. Do you think these wild animals are scary? [Allow for answers.]
Say: Even though it would be scary to meet an animal like these by yourself, it’s not so scary for the animal babies, is it? How do the animal babies feel when they hear their mamas or daddies roar for them to come close? Do you think they feel scared like you would feel if you heard them roar? [Allow for answers.]
Say: No way! The baby lions always know their mama and daddy lions love them. The mamas and daddies make sure the babies get plenty to eat. They also keep them safe from the other wild animals around. They keep them from making mistakes as they are growing that could hurt them, like jumping from a high place in a tree, or going into a deep stream. The mamas and daddies also teach the babies how to take care of themselves, and how to be careful of things that could threaten them, like people, or other wild animals, or snakes, or the edges of cliffs.
Say: So to the baby animals, these big, scary wild animals are not scary at all, are they?
This is exactly what God said to the prophet Hosea. God knew all the animals God had made and knew exactly how they loved their babies. And God knew how people loved their human babies. And God knew how God loved all God’s babies – and who are God’s babies? Who are God’s children? [Allow for answers.]
Say: You and I are God’s children. The people of Israel were God’s children. And Hosea, a faithful prophet who listened to God’s message, was God’s child. God told Hosea that God loved God’s children too much to stay away from them. God wanted to bring them closer to God. So this is what God told Hosea: that God’s children would be like baby lions, and God would roar like a lion to call to the cubs, God’s children, so they would know where to come close to God. And the children of God would come trembling to God!
Say: Remember the great love God has for us, just as fierce, strong, wild animals also love their babies. When you say your prayers, pray that you will hear God calling to you, just as God has called to all God’s children. Listen for that loving call, and be ready to come close to God, who loves you very much.
Prayer: Say these words after I say them.
O Mighty God,
You are strong and fierce like a lion.
And you are also tender and loving.
You are our God, and we are your children.
Let us hear you call to us, and bring us near,
In Jesus’ name, Amen.