What timing! In the middle of working on Advent 2, I discovered something that may make all the prophecy texts of the November and Advent make more sense to children. But, it needs to be introduced on November 9 – that is this weekend! So…
All the Old Testament prophecies between now and Christmas make sense only when readers know the basics about the Exile. Since few children (or many other worshipers) do, it helps to introduce Exile before you start reading your way toward Christmas. With a basic introduction on November 9, you can then introduce the text for each week as either before, during or after Exile. Knowing that will help listeners understand what the prophet was saying.
The introduction could be a children’s time but is best shared just before the Old Testament lesson for today. It might go something like the following:
Remember all the stories we read this fall about God rescuing the people from slavery in Egypt. Moses led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land. While they were in the wilderness God gave them the 10 Commandments so they would know how to live as God’s people. When they got to the Promised Land God gave them leaders and they became a nation. At first everything was fine. But, over the years the people forgot they were God’s people and forgot about the 10 Commandments. God sent prophets to warn them they were making big mistakes. But people did not listen. Finally God gave them a big time out. They were attacked by foreigners and taken to live in their country. They lost everything they loved. God left them in that country for 70 long years. While they were there prophets helped the people remember what it means to be God’s people. When they were ready, God sent a king who let them go back home to Jerusalem. They went back determined to do a better job of being God’s people. That 70 year long time-out is known as “The Exile.” We will be reading lots of messages from the Exile between now and Christmas. Some will be messages from prophets BEFORE the Exile warning God’s people that if they didn’t change their ways, bad things would happen. Some will be messages from prophets DURING Exile reminding them what it means to be God’s people. And some will be messages from prophets celebrating with the people AFTER they got to go back home. Today’s message comes from the prophet Amos who spoke BEFORE the Exile, to warn the people that they were not living as they should and that if they didn’t change their ways, God would punish them. Listen to God’s word….