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November 2012

Through the Curtain

Pentecost Proper 28

From “Sitting on the Rainbow”

Scripture Reference: Heb. 10:19-25

Preparation: Bring a lightweight piece of material that can be torn in half easily—an old sheet, for example. You may want to cut one edge slightly in the center of the cloth, so it will be easier to tear. If you can do so, drape the sheet over a rack or high chair so it blocks the altar from the view of the children. 

A long time ago, the Israelites worshiped God in a church called a tabernacle. The tabernacle had a walkway around the outside and several large rooms inside. At the very center of the tabernacle was a place called the Holy of Holies. That was a small room that had a very thick curtain closing off the door. The only person allowed into the Holy of Holies was the high priest. Nobody else could go behind the curtain because that was the powerful presence of the Almighty God.

In those long-ago times, before God sent Jesus to us, people did not go directly to God with their offerings and sacrifices. The high priest would take their offerings to God, and he would receive messages from God for the people. The high priest was the only one who could meet God behind the curtain in the Holy of Holies.

The Israelites knew that God was very, very powerful and holy. They knew that they were very sinful and not at all holy. And they were even afraid to be near God’s special holy room. Before he went into the Holy of Holies, the high priest had to clean himself carefully and wear special clothing and put away any unclean or bad thoughts.

The high priest’s robes were trimmed with bells, and a rope was tied around his ankle. When he entered the Holy of Holies, the other priests would wait outside. They were not allowed to go in. If anything happened to the high priest and if they heard him fall, the other priests could drag him out with the rope. They would not dare go inside themselves.

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, do you know what happened to the curtain that covered the entrance to the Holy of Holies? (Allow children to respond.) The thick curtain was ripped from top to bottom, just as easily as this thin material is torn. (Tear the piece of sheet so children can now see the altar behind it.) Jesus’ death opened a doorway to the presence of God. Now we never need to be afraid to go to God ourselves. We can come with our prayers and our offerings at any time.

The book of Hebrews, chapter 10, says, “Now we are sure that we can approach God by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh” (v. 19 author’s paraphrase). Because Jesus died for us, we can approach the Almighty God.

Prayer:  We thank you, Lord, for opening a way for us to talk to you and for bringing us through the curtain into your awesome presence.

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