Sunday School material

July 12th

Hello Super Sunday School Parents,

Grace and peace to you!

In this week’s Sunday School lesson, our children learn the story of how Joshua and the Israelites crossed the River Jordan while they bravely, and faithfully, traveled toward the Promised Land (Joshua 3: 1-17; 4: 1-24).

Their journey took place following forty years of aimlessly wandering through the wilderness.  Can you imagine how weary it must have felt to be moving but going nowhere?  To have a goal in mind, but no clear path for which to follow?

Well, maybe you can.  For the past several months, as we’ve lived through a pandemic, scientists all over the world have been racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.  We’ve also witnessed atrocious acts of racism across our nation and learned about the pain and destruction it causes countless individuals in America each and every day.

For me, even as I read the news and learn how some progress is being made toward understanding this virus, and also towards combatting systemic racism, it nevertheless feels as if we’re going around and around in circles.  We have goals in mind, sure, but the path for how we are to reach them has proven rather elusive.

So, back to the Israelites who were following Joshua’s lead.  They had all packed up their tents and were ready to follow the ark of the covenant into the promised land, but the Jordan River was between the Israelites and their new home.  In ancient times, this river was probably 100 feet wide and 3-10 feet deep. During the time of year when the Israelites crossed, flooding could increase the Jordan River to as much as 600 feet in breadth and 150 feet in depth[1].  Crossing in spring was a daunting and dangerous task.

Nevertheless, Joshua reminded the people to trust that God had a plan and to believe that God’s plan would work.  The Israelites faithfully obliged, and sure enough, when the priests carrying the ark stepped into the Jordan River, the water stopped flowing and the twelve tribes of Israel were able to cross on dry land.  

Did they wait for the miracle of parting water before they stepped out?  Nope.

I wonder about this group; what was going through the priests’ minds then?  They didn’t falter.  They just stepped right into the uncertainty and danger without hesitation, trusting God.  But, how?  How, especially after wandering aimlessly for forty years, does one summon up the courage necessary to perform such an extraordinary act of faith?

We are given one particularly important clue: once through the river, God commands the Israelites to remember.  God asks them to build a monument from stones found at the bottom of the Jordan River.  God also asks them to tell future generations (who might not be privy to witnessing such miracles) about this remarkable story of faithfulness.  God wanted his people to remember.

Perhaps, when faced with this seemingly insurmountable obstacle, the priests recalled the stories they heard as children about how God parted the Red Sea so that their parents could escape Egypt.  It seems that this memory, this act of remembrance, helped them feel brave.  The very act of bearing those stories in mind helped the priests step out in faith.

There is power in remembering.  Remembering gave the Israelites courage.  Remembering gave the Israelites strength! 

God wants us to remember too. To embrace the act of recalling to mind the myriad ways that God took care of us as we went through the valleys of life and encountered challenges.  To remember how God was with our friends and loved ones as they experienced hardship and eventually overcame it.  When we recall these things, we stand on the solid foundation of our faith.  We start to feel strong and not fearful.  We feel less dismayed and more courageous.

In remembering, we become ready for the cloudy future that lies ahead, knowing that God will be by our side, wherever we go, just as God was for Joshua, just as God was for Moses, and just as God was for the Israelites.  There is power in remembrance.  By recalling to mind God’s incredible ability to overcome obstacles, we can face the challenges of today’s world with strength and courage.  

And so, in closing, my prayer this week is for God to help us experience the spirit that was present among the Israelites the day they crossed the Jordan River into the promised land.  May we remember God’s power, may we remember God’s tremendous love.

I hope you have fun sharing the attached family devotional and activities with your children.  Take good care as you embark on this important mission and be well.  You’ve got this!

With Deep Blessings,

Jenny Rousseau

PS – here’s a video from Deep Blue Kids about remembering moments spent with friends https://my.amplifymedia.com/amplify/video/unitedmethodistpublishinghouse/35799-deep-blue-connects-adventure-summer-2020/35802-lessons/114917-communities-remember

[1] New Interpreters Study Bible, New Revised Standard Version (2003), pg. 310