So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.” Genesis 18: 6-15
Hymnody: Lutheran Service Book #855: 1, 3, 4 "For All the Faithful Women"
|Abraham, Sarah, and the Angel. c. 1520. Jan Provost.|
|Sarah Hears and Laughs. c. 1896 James Tissot|
|Sarah Leading Hagar to Abraham. c. 1637 Matthias Stomer.|
|Sarah Presenting Hagar to Abraham. c. 1699. Adriean van der Werff|
|Abraham and Sarah. 1956. Marc Chagall|
Interestingly, most art depicting Sarah shows her handing (a half-dressed) Hagar off to Abraham.
After reading the Genesis 18 story and showing my children the paintings of Sarah laughing from her tent at God's promise to give her a son in her old age, we talked about how God kept his promise anyway, in spite of Sarah's unbelief. I emphasized God's faithfulness even when his people are unfaithful. Then we talked about her joy at God giving her Isaac, and how through Isaac, Jesus would eventually be born, bring true joy to his people by saving them from their sins. My eldest remembered all the stories of the patriarchs and their wives from Sunday School last fall, so she filled her younger brother in on the rest of the story ("then Isaac married Rebekah and had Jacob and Esau. They were twins! Two babies!")
We made a meal like the one Sarah served to the visitors (bread, roast beef, and a yogurt dish). We also talked a bit about hospitality toward those who visit our home (sharing toys was a big topic). We prayed for women who are unable to have children, that God would give them His blessing and peace (and children, if it pleases Him).
Summary: As we celebrate and remember the saints before us, for my small children it helps to focus on particular details or themes, and keep it simple. Today for us it was laughter (both in disbelief and later in joy), God's faithfulness to his promises, hospitality, and praying for the barren.
Books: I've read a lot of good reviews of the children's book Sarah Laughs by Jacqueline Jules. The book emphasizes Abraham and Sarah's monotheism and holding fast to God's promises. However, as one Amazon reviewer put it, "The neutral language makes this book useful for readers of many faiths." (I believe the author is Jewish.)
Other activities: You can find coloring pages here and here. And, in case you're not still recovering from Christmas cookies (we just finished our last frozen sugar cookie last week) or dreading Valentines Day sugar-comas, you can always make star cookie cut-outs, reminiscent of God's promise to Abraham (and Sarah) to make their descendants as the stars in the sky. You and your child are one of those descendants, born of faith in baptism!