O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.
And ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.
Let's try to live out this story. Grab some blocks, Legos, or other building supplies you have at home and build yourself a city. Include your home, church, school, sports arena, etc. Once you're done building, knock it over. Imagine seeing the important places in your life taken away. Now we can try to understand what the people were feeling.
Today's reading comes from Isaiah 61:1-11. Open your Bibles to read the story, or read this paraphrased version (from Be the Story Curriculum):
One of the prophets named Isaiah was speaking to the people of Israel. They were all very sad and thought God had forgotten them. But Isaiah told them that it was his job to help them. He said:
“The Spirit of God is with me, because God has chosen me.
God has sent me to bring good happy news to forgotten people,
To help the people who are sad in their hearts,
To give freedom to people who are stuck and trapped,
To say this is the year when God is fixing everything.
We will fix the broken houses and build the old cities.
Strangers and visitors will come back to Jerusalem and say how nice it is.
You will have food and money and nice things once more.
For God loves it when a wrong is made right.
God will not leave any of you, and your children and grandchildren will be known by everyone around them for having a good life and a good God.
I praise God with all my heart because God has given me good things!”
Here are some questions for you to discuss:
- How do you think it felt to hear these words from Isaiah? How do these words make you feel?
- How does this situation relate to our lives right now, in the pandemic? What do you think God is telling us today?
- What does this reading have to do with Jesus and Christmas?
- What is your favorite part of this reading? What stands out the most?
Activity: Rebuilding the City
Remember when you built a city and then destroyed it a few minutes ago? God promises that all the broken cities will be fixed. Put your city back together again-- make it even better than before!
Activity: Christmas Cards
Write and decorate Christmas cards for people in your life-- this may include the families you got paired up with in the Christmas card exchange, a neighbor, or a grandparent you haven't seen in awhile. Be sure to express the good news that God is coming to us in Jesus to fix things!
Activity: Researching Local Organizations
There are a lot of local nonprofit organizations that are working to share good news with people who are struggling. Some of the ones we partner with at Glen Cary are Family Promise of Anoka County, Hope4Youth, NACE Food Shelf, and Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota. Pick one (or more) of these organizations to research. Go to their websites and answer the following questions:
- What does this organization do to help the community?
- Who is this organization helping? (E.g. people without a place to live, people without enough to eat, youth, adults, kids, etc.)
- What can you do to help?