God’s Promises (Jeremiah 31) Lesson for St. Patrick's Day

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Bible Focus: God offers us His comfort and presence, making and keeping promises throughout history! This lesson provides a twist on traditional St. Patrick’s Day emphasis by looking at the event’s founder relative to Biblical prophets. Patrick followed God’s lead and spread the word of the Gospel, just like Old (and New) Testament heroes followed God’s direction.
Target Age Group: Pre-K-Sixth Grade (adaptable)
Student application: We celebrate people in the Bible who have done great things at God’s leading…when we pray and follow what the Bible says, we can do great things, too! We need to have faith that God has our best in mind, and we need to be ready to share His love with others. Just like prophets of the Bible, we can spread God’s word and love, as St. Patrick did!
Scripture: Jeremiah 31:31-34, Matthew 28:16-20
Materials: Construction paper, markers, pipe cleaners; small plates; pretzels; small treat/sticker
Lesson Opener:  Things in threes…invite students to come up with things that come in threes. Write or call out as many as possible…triangles, tricycles, triplets, trios, Mickey Mouse circles, etc…. Challenge them (and help them) to make a Shamrock (clover) using three green paper circles connected to a triangle. Then provide students with a green pipe cleaner and help them make a shamrock by twisting around their fingers. For a little snack, show kids how to make a “Trinity”-shape by placing three twisted pretzels together. Explain that today we will be learning a bit about St. Patrick, as well as an Old Testament prophet.
Lesson and Verses: We’ll start by peeking at an Old Testament prophet, who came to deliver messages from God to the people of Israel. These were words of condemnation, but also of hope and promise. Will you keep your promises? Ask students if they have ever made promises for something or to someone. What have they promised? Have they kept their word? Sometimes we promise things that we don’t fulfill…but GOD always keeps His promises. Invite students to look at a few verses from the book of Jeremiah.

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to[
d] them,[e]
declares the Lord.   -Jeremiah 31:31-32

Jeremiah here promises that God is going to make a promise of good news for Israel. He is declaring that no matter what, He will be faithful to them. We make mistakes and do things we know we shouldn’t. But God will always be there ready for our return:

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”   -Jeremiah 31:33-34

This is a wonderful promise. And it is not the first one God has made us! He promised in the story of Noah that He would never again flood the earth, and what sign did He give as a reminder? (Rainbow!)

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.” (Genesis 8:22)

God also made covenants with Abraham and his family, and with Moses and the people (the Ten Commandments are part of this!). But the way He ultimately and finally fulfilled these promises was through Jesus, who covered all of our iniquities with His death and resurrection.
Transition to another figure we will examine, who helped to spread and share this message…start by showing the Veggie Tales short video (should be cued up on screen, if possible) that briefly describes Patrick’s life.
We just celebrated a fun March holiday we know as…St. Patrick’s Day! Now just who was St. Patrick? Invite students to share what they think they know about him….surprise them with the news that actually, Patrick was not officially a canonized saint (but the Irish sort of “adopted” him as saint). Nor was he even from Ireland originally!
Explain (after or before video) a few real facts about Patrick…He was actually born in Great Britain, and was quite rebellious as a child/teen. When he was sixteen, he was kidnapped and taken to be a slave in Ireland. There, tending to sheep (hmmm, a shepherd? What a familiar job…), he prayed and began to develop a close relationship with God. Eventually, he escaped back to England. However, a dream inspired him to return to Ireland. He felt that God was calling him to go tell the Irish about Christianity. In those days, people in Ireland were of the “Celtic” faith, and followed mystic pagan practices and cultic trends. So while he was in his forties, Patrick made it back to the Emerald Isle and served as a missionary to the people there. His goal was to first convert the chiefs in charge of clans, who could then share the Gospel with the rest of the people. Patrick’s work helped the lost souls of Ireland find new hope in the message of Jesus.
Discuss how amazing it is that Patrick followed God’s instructions and took the leap of faith to share the Bible with Ireland. What do you think God might ask us to do? We may not travel or adventure, but we can still demonstrate Christ’s love to those around us. Brainstorm some ways to do that this week. We can demonstrate care and sympathy, show love and respect, or even tell others about our faith!
Did you know Patrick also wrote poems and hymns? If time allows, read/sing one of these. Options include “I Bind Unto Myself Today” and “The Deer’s Cry.”
Craft/Activity:  A real pot of gold…help students make a rainbow ornament to remember how God has loved us, and how our lives for Him will yield an eventual “pot of gold” in our heavenly home. Help them attach strips of paper together in a chain…start with black, explaining its significance as representing sin and darkness. Then attach red, for the blood of Christ, and blue for the waters of baptism. Place white for purity, and green for new growth in Christ. At the bottom, attach a “pot” shaped paper with gold glitter for hope in Heaven.
Three parts…we cannot be sure if it is historically accurate that Patrick used the shamrock (three leaf clover) to explain the Trinity…but even if it isn’t, we can still demonstrate the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with it. We can also use the shamrock to demonstrate how the Great Commission encourages us to spread the word of Christ to three places: the surrounding neighborhoods, the community, and the whole earth…place three paper plates (colored green or with green paper) together, cutting a “V” shape in the top to look more clover-ish. Write ways to serve God or spread His word on the plates. Connect to a stick or paper towel tube.
Pray for opportunities to share God’s love, and thank Him for His amazing work in our lives.

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