Nehemiah 8:10b - "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not be grieved or weep."
- Print off pictures that coordinate with the passage.
- Make the sign.
- Read the scripture ahead of time.
- Photos of Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in 1998. (See www.americancatholic.org for photos)
- A sign that says, "Amen! Amen!"
Before beginning, ask a child to hold the sign that says, "Amen". Tell the child to hold it up when you point to them. Tell the congregation to pay close attention, because they will act out parts of the story.
Good morning! I have an amazing story to tell you today! A very long time ago, the city walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed. God told the king the people needed to go back to Jerusalem. God told Nehemiah the wall needed to be rebuilt. When Nehemiah went to look at the wall, he was schocked at how bad it was. It had been burned and torn down. It was a really big job, but Nehemiah trusted God to help him see the wall be rebuilt.
When Nehemiah told the people what to do, they did it! They worked very hard; so hard in fact, that the wall was finished in 52 days!
It had been a very long time since God's people had been able to worship. When they finished, all the people gathered for the dedication. A platform had been built, high above the people so everyone could see the priests and other leaders at the dedication of the wall. Nehemiah asked the priest, Ezra, to read the scriptures. (Read Neh. 8:5-6) "And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people; and when he opened it all the people stood." (At this point, you may have to coax the congregation to stand.) "And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God; and all the people answered, (have child hold up sign) "Amen." 'lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground."
Well done! (Tell the congregation to sit down). Go on to explain that the people were so happy to hear and understand the reading that they wept. "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not be grieved or weep."
As I said earlier, this story happened a long time ago. But the amazing thing about the Bible is the stories happen every single day! In 1998 this story took place on a tiny island called Cuba. Thirty years ago the government told the people they could not have anything like Bibles or religious objects in their homes. They weren't allowed to read the stories and they forgot them. But Pope John Paul II, the leader of the Catholic Church, went to visit Cuba. (Show picture of Pope on the high platform). He stood on a high platform so all the people could see him, just like in our Bible story. He blessed the people and God, and when he read the scripture the people raised their hands, they shouted "Amen!" and they too, cried, to hear the word of God read to them. They went away happy, just like the people in our story.
We never know where we might see God's stories jump to life around us, but when we do, we will be happy also.
Let us pray: Dear God, thank you for the stories in our Bibles. They are old, but are also new every day. Help us to see your stories around us. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.