Welcome to the Exile and Return, the Godly Play story scheduled for this Sunday, November 10.
Last week we shared the story of the ark and the temple, and talked about meeting God in a special place and honoring him with certain routines that both honored God and helped remind the worshipers of the sacredness of being close to God.
At the end of the lesson, we read Solomon's prayer of dedication of the Temple, where he prays, "But God, will you really live here with us on earth? The whole sky and the highest heaven cannot contain you. Certainly this Temple that I built cannot contain you either..." This week, we think about this again as we learn about what happened when God's people were taken away from Jerusalem and its temple, which they had believed to be God's home.
Some themes to explore:
* Where do we find God? What if we suddenly have no temple or tabernacle or special routines or things to honor God? Can we still meet God?
*What do we do when we're very afraid, when bad things happen to us? What do we pray for? What does God want us to do?
*What does it mean to be homesick? What were God's people homesick for during the story? Were they homesick for God?
*What changes have you been through that have been hard or scary for you? What did you do? Who gave you help? What should we remember when those times come?
*What does it mean to be faithful? How is it different to be faithful in hard times versus in easy times?
Some activity ideas to add to your own, to help children make a gift to God in thanks for the story:
Reproduce the story.1. Children could make their own physical elements of the Godly Play story, with blue yarn for the rivers. (Or maybe they can think of another way to represent them.) Pieces of wood for the cities. Can they make a chain out of pipe cleaners or strips of paper? (While they do this, teachers can talk about what the chain means--what it means to be in exile.) What could they use to make the people of God?
2. Children could draw or paint with watercolors a scene from the story: the destruction of the temple, the sad journey away from Jerusalem, the happy rebuilding of the temple.
3. Older children could use markers to trace the path of God's people on a photocopied map. Could they make a map of their own? One for the class?
4. Children could use colored sand to make a desert scene.
Explore themes from the story.1. Children could take a large sheet of paper, divide it down the center into 2 parts, label the left side Times We Are Sad Or Scared, and the other side What We Can Do. Then the children can draw or paint pictures to illustrate both sides.
2. Children could draw or paint or do a collage on the subject of Where and When I Meet God Today. Is it in nature? In church? At home reading the Bible? Being with friends? This would be a great addition for our new bulletin board. This could also be done as a class project on butcher paper (like a mural.)
3. What does it mean to be faithful?
Children could make a collage or drawing or mural showing what it means to be faithful to God. Does it mean coming to church and worshiping together? Bringing an offering? Praying? Trusting? What else?
4. Children could draw or write about a time they were homesick. What helped them get through it? What would God want us to do when we feel homesick?
Some great verses to get children thinking:
“We sat down and cried by the rivers of Babylon when
we remembered Zion. How can we sing the song of the
Lord in a strange land?” (Psalm 137:1, 4)
“Praise the Lord, all nations! Praise Him all people! For
His loving-kindness toward us is great. And the truth of
the Lord lasts forever. Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 117)