Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Wisdom from the Hebrew Scriptures: A Multigenerational Program

Alternate Activity 1: A Skin of Water

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Story, "Sarah, Hagar, and Abraham"
  • Dishpan or other shallow container of similar shape and size
  • Sand, enough to fill the dishpan half full
  • Pitcher of water and water source, or three pitchers of water
  • Self-sealing plastic sandwich bags
  • Large spoons

Preparation for Activity

  • Be sure that there are at least two adults or youth to meet with this breakout group.
  • Print a copy of the story and mark the text that begins: "But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian... " and continues to the end of the story. Practice reading that section aloud.
  • Set out materials.
  • Put some water into one of the self-sealing plastic sandwich bags.

Description of Activity

Invite participants to retell the story from Ishmael's point of view, one piece within the larger narrative. Say, "In the larger group, we have talked about how it felt to be Sarah, or Abraham, or Hagar, Ishmael's mother. Let's think about how it felt to be Ishmael in this story." After participants have shared what they remember, reread the marked portion of the story, pausing as necessary to explain the meaning.

Say that when Hagar and Ishmael were sent into the desert, they were sent with bread and a skin of water. Ask, "What do you suppose a skin of water is?" Explain that people made an animal skin into a bag to carry water, and show the plastic bag you have prepared with water in it. Say that Hagar and Ishmael had a skin of water and some bread when they entered the desert. After some time they had drunk all the water and eaten the bread and were near to dying of thirst when they were shown a well in the desert. Explain that a well in the desert is not like a wishing well. Rather it is a place where water bubbles up in the sand or the dirt. Say, that you are going to create such a well.

Gather participants around the dishpan of sand and add enough water so that the sand is soaked and there is some water on the surface. Invite them to imagine that there is an underground spring soaking the sand. How will they collect water from the sand? Distribute a "skin" (plastic sandwich bag) to each participant and invite each in turn to try and capture water with their hands and put it into the "skin." If they are unable to do it with their hands, offer a spoon and help as necessary. After everyone has put some water into the "skin," ask them again how Ishmael must have felt in the desert with his mother. Work with participants to plan how they will share Ishmael's point of view with the larger group. Invite them to bring their "skins" to the closing worship, cautioning them against drinking the water because several people have had their hands in it.