Prophets Rock!

We had a wonderful time last night learning about the Old Testament Prophets!

  • Three of my most rambunctious students were absent last night and while I was disappointed they missed the experience, it certainly made for a very calm evening!
  • After welcoming the young people back from the holidays, we did a little review about the Ark of the Covenant and I showed them how I placed many of their prayer symbols in our own Ark to be carried for our opening procession which was very prayerful as usual.
  • I then donned a baseball cap, put a whistle around my neck (and blew it!) and picked up a clip board and asked “What do I look like?” (realizing what a dangerous question that is to ask kids!) to which they shouted, “a coach!”
  • I asked how many of them have had a coach at one time or another and all raised their hands. I then asked if anyone could imitate their coach and one young lady did a great imitation of her soccer coach yelling at her players!
  • I asked why coaches “get in your face” and they said: because they want to win, they want to teach you, they want you to get it right, they want you to learn discipline and obedience, they want you to avoid mistakes, they want you to know the game plan, etc.
  • I then said that we would be learning about some individuals whom God sent to the people and kings of Israel to act in a similar way: to “get in their faces” so that they would learn to follow God, to avoid mistakes, to know the plan, and so on.
  • After we read about the Prophets from the Finding God book, I had them each locate in the Bible, a passage from a Prophet that I assigned to them (Prophets of Israel Challenge the People BLM).
  • With a little help from my aide and me, the kids located their Prophet in the Table of Contents of the Bible and then pinpointed their assigned passage and copied it out on the blackline master. I told them to be ready to read aloud their passage as if giving a campaign speech and told them to indicate in their “script” where they will pause several times for audience reaction.
  • One by one, the kids came forward and stepped up on a small step-stool I brought (we talked about what it means to “get up on your soapbox” or to do a “stump speech” – the only way to get attention in the days before microphones and video screens!) and delivered their “speeches.”
  • Each began by introducing him or her self using the name of the Prophet and pausing for audience reaction. Half the class was assigned to cheer and the other half to boo which they did robustly but not wildly each time the speakers paused.
  • After each speech, we went back over the words and I asked what this Prophet was “coaching” the people and kings of Israel to do and be. We learned about the following words: oppression, alien, justice, orphan, widow, perjury, eviction, and the phrase “rend your hearts.”
  • The kids really enjoyed getting up on their soapbox and delivering their messages and they also enjoyed cheering and booing. We talked about how difficult it is to spread a message that some people don’t want to hear.
  • I mentioned to the group how all of the Biblical Prophets are men and explained the gender roles of biblical times. The next girl that got up to give her speech introduced herself by saying, “Hi! I am the prophetess Obadiah!” You go, girl!
  • This activity took about 25 minutes and was very fruitful. We followed with a wonderful experience of prayer – a 10 minute guided reflection asking Jesus to help us be prophets to those who need guidance and correction. The kids were very prayerful and quiet…it was one of the most reverent moments I’ve experienced as a catechist and I thanked them for that.
  • The kids seemed very intrigued at the idea of writing a letter to the President of the United States about an issue of injustice as a way of participating in the prophetic ministry of Jesus. It’ll be interesting to see if any of them actually follow through.
  • Before our closing prayer and dismissal, I said, “OK, I’m one of your parents picking you up tonight after class and I ask what you learned about in Mr. Paprocki’s class tonight:” They called out, “Prophets!” I asked, “and what’s a prophet?” to which they called out, “like a coach!” I asked, “whattya mean, like a coach?” to which they called out things like, “they taught the people to follow God; to stop doing bad things; to get with the plan; to be better people; to stop sinning” and so on. I asked, “and who are some of the Prophets?” to which they shouted, “Isaiah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, Micah, Ezekiel, Joel, etc.” naming the Prophets they were assigned or remembered listening to or reading about.
  • I felt that this little informal assessment indicated that they had learned SOMETHING!!! Thank you, Jesus!

[photo: VarsityLife via Compfight]

About Joe Paprocki 2352 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

3 Comments on Prophets Rock!

  1. Hi Joe! Wonderful lesson!! I am wondering if you could share the prophet reflection you did with them for the prayer experience. I would welcome such a reflection!!
    Blessings!

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