This week's reading reflects on the destruction and exile of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Judah (the Southern Kingdom, with it's capital - Jerusalem). The destruction of Israel in 722 BCE and Judah in 587 BCE rocked the theology of this people of God. How could such an event happen? Did they do something wrong? Did they believe in the right God? Did God love them? What didn't they do right? As Jews (ie - 'from Judah') continued wrestling with these questions, they wrote one of the most complex conversations. In fact, some Bible Scholars believe that a significant portion of the Old Testament was edited and/or written down during their time in exile. While some Jews returned to rebuild Jerusalem, most stayed in exile, becoming the "Diaspora" (dispersed people). Being away from Jerusalem, the Jews had to also wrestle with their own identity as a religion and ethnicity. In some ways, it's a amazing that they kept their unique identity in all the different empires they lived. For Mennonites, there has been a similar "great conversation" in how we live in the middle of empires and Christendom, while also following Jesus above all else. Can we teach our children, and ourselves, how to practice having a conversation? Sometimes it's easier to make a decision than it is to have a conversation. Are we capable of both as we follow God together?
This chapter connects with :
Pre-K lesson Nov. 15, "Exile and Return."
K-2nd lesson Dec. 6, "Jonah" (the story of a prophet wrestling with forgiving the Assyrians who completely destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel).
Venture Club lessons Nov. 15, Nov. 22, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 (four lessons that deal with destruction, exile, returning and the Psalms).
Contact Pastor Theda to participate in a theme based small group this year.