My lesson for tonight dovetails nicely with last week’s session since we are continuing to talk about the Prophets. Last week, we focused on how the Prophets challenged the People of Israel. This week, we look at how the Prophets spoke words of HOPE to the People when they were in Exile and as they returned to their destroyed homeland. You may recognize the Works of Mercy exercise from a lesson I did a couple of years ago. Also, I merged prayer into the Explore step and will have the kids do their Works of Mercy activity as a prayerful exercise.
Big Idea: We need HOPE to survive and we find HOPE in God’s MERCY
Preliminaries (15 mins)
- Welcome and attendance – children write out prayer intentions
- Opening prayer ritual/procession to set up prayer center
Engage (20 mins)
- Review Prophets Challenge the People of Israel
- How is a prophet like a coach?
- What are some things the prophets “got in the faces” of the People of Israel over?
- What are some of the names of the Prophets?
- Explain that the advice of the Prophets went unheeded and both kingdoms of Israel – the North and South – fell and the people and their leaders were carried off into EXILE (write word on the board). Ask if someone can explain what exile is (being forced from your homeland)
- Show brief YouTube video of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to describe what it was like for the People of Israel to return home from Exile to a destroyed homeland.
- How would you describe how it must feel for the people of the East Coast to return to such devastation?
- What thoughts did the song express?
- What words did government leaders in the video express?
- Today we’re going to learn about how the Prophets were the ones who spoke words of encouragement to the People of Israel while they were in Exile and when they returned home to a destroyed Israel.
Explore and Reflect (35 mins)
- Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:1-2 (Isaiah speaks words of comfort)
- Read aloud Finding God pg. 100 (The Jews in Exile) and pg. 101 (Early Christian Turn to the Prophecies) – use ball toss to facilitate reading.
- Show a First Aid kit and ask what you might expect to find in one: bandages, antiseptics, pain relievers, burn ointment, and so on.
- Explain that a Catholic “first aid” kit for those who are suffering contains one thing: MERCY. Open First Aid kit to show a piece of paper with the word MERCY on it. Explain that Catholics show mercy to those in need through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy (turn to Finding God p. 215) and have volunteers read the lists of the Works of Mercy.
- Make 2-sided copies (if possible, enlarge to 11 x 17) of the blank picture frames for the Corporal Works of Mercy and the Spiritual Works of Mercy and provide one for each student.
- Provide students with one of each of the following: Corporal Works of Mercy Pictures and Spiritual Works of Mercy pictures.
- Note: the pictures are not in the same order as the frames…that would be too easy! For the Corporal works, they are – top, left to right: shelter the homeless, give alms to the poor, and bury the dead; bottom, left to right: visit the sick and imprisoned, feed the hungry, clothe the naked. For the Spiritual works, they are – top, left to right: console the doubter, forgive injuries, and bear wrongs patiently; bottom, left to right: instruct the ignorant, advise the sinner, and comfort the sorrowful.
- Go over the materials with them
- Provide scissors and glue sticks and have them cut and paste the pictures into the proper picture frame.
- Have them do this work individually and prayerfully in their Sacred Space as you play some inspirational music in the background.
- Have them take these home to share with their parents.
Respond (5 mins)
- For a closing prayer, pray the prayer service on pg. 102 of Finding God pg. 97 (Pray a Psalm).
- Tell the young people that their “assignment” for the next couple of weeks (no class next Monday/MLK holiday) is to bring hope to others by performing Works of Mercy.