The story can be condensed as follows:
"Around the city of Jerusalem stood a high wall. Inside the city rose the temple built for God. The People of God knew that God was in the temple, but they also thought that it was the only place where you could pray to God.
People thought that the wall of the city would protect them from everything. Then the Babylonians came. Their king wanted the city of Jerusalem for himself. They broke down the walls and burned the temple.
They took many of the people away. Only a few were left in the land.
The soldiers marched God's people away from Jerusalem. They looked back at the smoke of the burning city and wondered if they would ever see it again. As they walked through the desert, they had to get up when the soldiers said. They had to eat when the soldiers said. They had to go where the soldiers said. They grew weary, and some died. It took a long time.
They were in exile. They could not go home.
They hung their harps on weeping willo trees and sang sad songs. They dreamed of home, but could not go back. They even faced toward Jerusalem when they said their prayers. Slowly, God's people began to understand that God was in this place. God's presence came to them as they gathered to read the scriptures, tell the old stories, and pray.
The king of Babylon allowed many of God's people to work. they set up stores. Some worked for the king. What a shock when the king of Persia came with his army and took Babylon for himself! This new king began to let some of the people go back to Jerusalem. Some went with Ezra to rebuild the temple. Others went with Nehemiah to rebuild the walls around the city.
Then the People of God were no longer in exile. They could go home again. Do you know what happened? Not all of them went home. Now they knew God was in the strange and foreign land. Some stayed, because God was there too."
As we close each storytelling session, we have wondering time where we can think further about the story as a group.
Some wondering questions to try at home:
- I wonder what part of the story you like best?
- I wonder what part is the most important?
- I wonder where you are in the story? What part of the story is about you?
Remember. This is not a time to quiz children on what they may or may not recall about the lesson. Rather, it is an opportunity to be quietly present as the children share their own experience.
See a video presentation of this story on YouTube here.
Next week, we will revisit our Books of the Bible lesson.