Memory Verse: “The land is not able to bear all his words.”
Items for Preparation:
- Tie a small stone to the end of string about 4-5 feet long. You will use this as a plumb line, and illustrate what a plumb line is.
- Find a depiction of the prophet Amos. You can see wonderful ones if you google “images of the prophet Amos,” which show him as a herdsman. Pull the image up on your tablet or print it out to show kids as your talk.
- Alternatively, you can dress up at Amos, and make sure you have a shepherd’s crook, a beard, a head wrap, and possibly a stuffed toy sheep with you. Kids always love it when we dress up! But hey, it’s okay just to have the image.
Background: Read the adult lesson in the print edition of Nurturing Faith and additional material online. We have some very hard sayings to treat today, which may be beyond the understanding of especially smaller children. So let’s make sure they learn what a prophet does, remember who the prophet Amos is, what Amos meant when he was talking about a plumb line. Let’s teach them that his words demanding justice were fighting words to the kings in power, and were so indicting that the land couldn’t bear them.
[Display your image, or approach children in your costume and swagger just a little. If you can do a ventriloquist’s job of “baa-aaa-ing” and make animal noises as if there are sheep around you, well then, you are an excellent children’s preacher! You go. You can also ask the kids to “baa” as if they are the sheep. Play a little game to keep their attention, and ask them to “baa” during the sermon every time you say the name “Amos.” If you want to have some fun with the morning’s worship preacher, tell kids to go ahead and “baa” every time s/he says Amos’ name, too. Heh heh.]
[If you are dressed at Amos, speak in first person, and if not, in third person:]
Say: I am Amos, a meek and mild shepherd and herdsman. I take care of animals on the hillside in the land of Israel. I come from Tekoa, a lovely place in Judah, which is the Southern kingdom, where King Jeroboam II is reigning right now. He has been the king for a long time – as long as I can remember. I’m living in the year 750 BC.
[Now lean close and whisper to your kids:]
Say: That’s about 750 years before Jesus is going to be born, so I do not know who Jesus is. [And wink a couple times when you say that.]
Say: But I am a good Hebrew man and I keep the Commandments. I want to serve God, to worship God, and to be a good person obeying God’s will.
Say: I have come up north to the Northern kingdom of Israel because God has been telling me to come here. I brought my sheep with me – they sure did enjoy the trip. We found lots of delicious grass for them in the countryside, and had beautiful nights camping out along the way. It has been a good journey. I really like my quiet life as a herdsman – but I feel troubled. I have been feeling that God is speaking to me, and what God is telling me is not good. God told me something very strange.
[Hold up your plumb line now so kids can see it.]
Say: God said that God is holding a plumb line, just like this one I have, against the land of Israel. A plumb line is a way of measuring how straight something is. When I hold it up, the stone makes the string fall straight down, and so if I hold it against this pew, we can see that the side of the pew is very straight. But if I hold it against something that is not straight, we can see very clearly how crooked it is. Do you see what God meant by saying “plumb line?” [Allow for answers.]
Say: This troubles me. King Jeroboam is taking good care of the rich people in his kingdom. But the poor people are suffering, and he doesn’t do anything to help them. So God has told me to warn the King that God is going to punish him. God wants things to be good for the poor and not just the rich. God wants there to be justice. Do you know what that word “justice,” means? [Allow for answers.]
Say: I, the herdsman and shepherd Amos, am trying so hard to help King Jeroboam and the people of Israel understand what justice is! It means that things are fair! It means that every person has an equal chance to live a good life! It means that nobody is a mean boss over anybody else! It means that kings and rulers take care of all their people and don’t just worry about themselves! Justice is important to God, and God wants me to give that message! I am going to use my plumb line to show them about straightening up and practicing justice.
Say: Some people say that I am a prophet. I am not really sure about that. I like being a shepherd. But I also feel that God is telling me to say these words to Israel and keep saying them. So, maybe I am a prophet. King Jeroboam and the priest in Bethel, Amaziah, think these words I am saying which come from God are bad. They don’t want to hear about God’s judgment of them. So I must keep speaking until they hear and obey God. It’s going to be a long trip. Say a prayer for me, that I can be a good shepherd and a good prophet.
Prayer: Say these words after I say them.
O Mighty God,
Let us hear your words
Even when they are heavy to bear.
Let us obey you
As the prophet Amos did.
Help us to bring justice
In Jesus’ name, Amen.