Bring the children together. Have them sit where they can see you and what you are holding. Show them the object that you have brought with you. (What you will say exactly will depend upon what you have brought.) Hold up the plant/or stuffed animal and say, “I just got this plant/toy this week. I really like it and it is special to me. But I don’t have a name for it yet. What should I name it? (As the children give you names, remind them that you want the name to mean something special to you or your family. If you have brought a picture of your pet already named, lead a conversation around how you named your pet.) Maybe you will settle on a name and you can say, “Yes! I like that name, it has a special meaning to me in my life. Have you ever named anything? A pet, a toy, a baby doll, or maybe you got to help name a younger brother or sister? How did you decide on the name? Did you pick a name that you didn’t like? No, you picked a name that was special to you and tells the world how much you love your pet, or sibling.
Today we heard a story about a man named Jacob. He loved God very much but had been having some troubles in his life. Jacob was moving his family which in those days meant walking and carrying your stuff or putting your stuff on animals to carry. So you couldn’t have everything you needed and it was hard work. One night he had sent his family ahead a bit and he was alone. Now this story is very old and a little different from some of the other Bible stories. A man came and wrestled or fought with Jacob all night. Jacob had his hip hurt and was very tired but refused to stop wrestling until the man gave him a blessing. Do you know what a blessing is? It’s when someone reminds you of how you belong to God and that God loves you very much. Well, finally Jacob got his blessing in the form of a new name! The man said that his name was now Israel which means, “he who strives with God.” Jacob, now Israel, had been wrestling with God! God doesn’t mind when we argue with God, as a matter of fact, God loves that we talk to God about everything!”
“Did you know that God has given you a special name as a blessing too? Remember what a blessing is? A reminder that God loves you and that you belong to God. God calls each of you not just by your name of…(fill in some names here) but “Child of God.” Just as you give your pets or toys special names, God has given each of us a special name too!”
Dear God, thank you for calling us “child of God.” May we share the good news that you love us all and call us yours. Help us to share your blessings with our friends, our family and our neighbors. In Jesus name, amen.
*Special thanks to Lois Moss for the idea!