November 1, 2010
The Name Quilt by Phyllis Root (Written for Grades K-3)
Comment: In many congregations, people will speak the names of those who have died in the last year. Upon hearing those names, memories and stories will come to the minds of those who knew and loved these saints in the community. Each square of the name quilt has a name stitched to it. Grandma uses the quilt to tell Sadie the stories of beloved family members. This endearing story is a perfect reminder of the ways we remember the saints in our lives and the lives of the church.
Year C: November 7, 2010
First Reading: Haggai 1:15b-2:9
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (Written for Grades 4-6)
Comment: Apathy can easily become a problem for anyone who has experienced loss, destruction, or change. This is the situation we find in Haggai, as he is seeking to rally the people to rebuild the temple. He encourages the people with a vision that they cannot yet see—God’s house filled with splendor, greater than it has ever been. The people of Ember are experiencing apathy in a similar way to the Israelites. The city of Ember is falling apart, running out of supplies, and on a certain path to darkness (literally!) The people remember how it once was, the city of plenty with overflowing storerooms, and now find themselves hoarding whatever they can find and hiding in their home for fear of the darkness. Lina and Doon, much like Haggai, seek to rile the people from their apathy. As the book ends, the reader is given hope that the message will be heard and the people of Ember will escape the darkness.
Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17
Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan (Written for Grades 4-6)
Comment: “Let no one deceive you in any way…stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught.” In this letter the Thessalonians are encouraged not to be anxious or alarmed by those who seek to deceive them, but to hold fast to their traditions and identity as God’s beloved. In this way, they will fulfill their calling and be strengthened in their work. After a seven-year absence, Naomi’s mother, Skyla, reappears in her life. Skyla is manipulative and deceptive, and does not have her children’s best interests in mind. It is difficult for Naomi to deal with the anxiety, fear, and disappointment associated with her mother. Naomi finds strength and the ability to overcome her worries after participating in the radish carving festival—a tradition in her father’s family. “Like the figures we carved from wood and soap, I was becoming who I was meant to be, the Naomi Soledad Leon Outlaw of my wildest dreams.”
Third Reading: Luke 20:27-38
If Nathan Were Here by Mary Bahr (Written for Grades K-3)
Comment: “Now he is the God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” According to Roberta C. Bondi, for God to be the God of the living and the God of the patriarchs means the patriarchs are alive in God (“Monastic Mentors”, The Christian Century, November 2, 2004, p. 16). Death is something that many of us struggle to understand. We, somewhat like those tricky Sadducees, want really specific answers to really tough questions. Sometimes we don’t get answers, but there is comfort to be found in the experience that those we love and have lost are alive in God. If Nathan Were Here explores a little boy’s journey through a “regular day” after the loss of his best friend. He thinks about all of the things they did together that they would still do together, and asks Nathan about his life after death. “Do you still pack trading cards in your lunch? Do you still have homework or is it always recess up there? Were you scared? What am I supposed to do without my best friend?” When he wakes up to a sunshine filled day, he stops to wonder if Nathan is making the morning laugh. Although Nathan has died, the narrator experiences him to be alive in God.