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July 2012

A Nation of Rebels

Pentecost Proper 9

From “Sitting on the Rainbow”

Scripture Reference: Ezek. 2:3-5

Image from 1916 pub. "A Textbook of Physics," Alexander William Duff et. al.

Preparation: Bring two large, strong magnets that can be turned to attract or repel each other. Large bar magnets with clearly marked north and south poles should work well.

I’d like to read to you from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, chapter 2, verses 3-5. “‘Son of man,’ [God] said, ‘I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a nation that is rebelling against me. . . . They are a hard-hearted and stubborn people. But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ And whether they listen or not—for remember, they are rebels—at least they will know they have had a prophet among them” (NLT).

Did you hear the words rebel and rebellious in those verses? Does anyone here know what it means to rebel or to be rebellious? (Let children respond.) When you get to be teenagers you may know a little bit more about rebellion, but even young children sometimes rebel. To rebel means to turn against the one in charge or the one in authority. If children won’t obey a parent and decide to go their own way, those children are rebelling. If students won’t obey a teacher or if they refuse to listen in class and try to disturb others, those students are rebelling.

When someone rebels, it’s like she is pushing against the grown-up who is trying to teach her. Let me show you what I mean by using these magnets. I can make one of these magnets “rebel” against the other by turning it so that the magnets push each other away. (Demonstrate with the two magnets.) When the forces of the magnets are turned against each other, it’s impossible to get these magnets together. But if we turn the one magnet around, suddenly they come together very easily, almost as if they’re hugging each other. It takes just one turn and the rebellion is gone.

The people of Israel were rebelling against God. They were pushing God away like magnets turned in the wrong direction. If they would repent or turn back toward God and start listening and obeying, what do you think would happen? (Let children speculate aloud.) It’s just like when I turned the magnet around; the people of Israel would be pulled back close to God.

People sometimes turn against God and do bad things and try to push God away. But God always wants to pull us back to him; he wants to have a close friendship with us. The next time you feel like a rebellious magnet—pushing against your parents or your teachers or even God—remember to turn yourself around and let that push change into a hug.

Prayer:  Forgive us, Lord, for rebelling against you and sometimes pushing you away. Help us to change our direction and turn toward you again so that we can be close to you.

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