Year A: July 27, 2014
First Reading: Genesis 29:15-28
The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
(Written for all ages)
Comment: Jacob’s love for Rachel made his seven years of service to Laban seem like just a few day. When talking about this text with young children, focus on the way Jacob’s love energized him to do hard work. When our desire for something (or in Jacob’s case, someone) is great, we might be willing to do whatever we can to have it be a part of our life. In Mark Pett’s wordless book, we follow a little girl who falls in love with a bicycle sitting in the store window. Like Jacob, the girl does whatever she can and works hard for a long time to obtain what she loves. And like Jacob, she also meets with disappointment and shifting expectations before she is finally united with the bicycle of her dreams. Invite members of your congregation to share their own stories of the things they have done for great love.
Second Reading: Romans 8:26-39
Another option for this text that focuses on grief after a death has already been reviewed on our site. You may also wish to read the review of My Father’s Arms Are A Boat.
Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter
(Written for ages 7-11)
Comment: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Honestly, this laundry list of suffering could easily cause one to feel completely isolated, defeated, and alone. In his commentary, David M. Greenshaw suggests that this makes the last two verses of this text remarkable: “Shall these things prevail? Shall these things have the capacity to undo us… No, no, no!” (Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 3, p 282) After her time in the secret school, Nasreen’s experience is like Paul’s “NO!” to the suffering, persecution, and isolation she’s endured. “Nasreen no longer feels alone. The knowledge she holds inside will always be with her, like a good friend. Now she can see blue sky beyond the dark clouds.” With the knowledge of God’s love within us, may we also know that we are not alone.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
The Jewel Box Ballerinas by Monique de Varennes
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: We are a society overloaded with stuff. Sometimes all of our stuff throws our priorities out of whack and we just think about getting more and more. In The Jewel Box Ballerinas, Bibi uses her riches to buy two of everything. On one of her shopping sprees, she obtains a jewelry box with two sad ballerinas. After she loses them while shopping, Bibi realizes how much she treasures them, wailing, “Oh, Miranda! Oh, Mathilda! What will I do without you? I’d give up all I own to have you back again!” In a touch of magic, the ballerinas become real girls and Bibi realizes that it is friendship, not stuff, that she truly needs. Jesus tells us, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure…” His words, and de Varennes’s story, invite us to reflect upon what we truly treasure. Wonder together with the children of your church about the treasures in life they value more than stuff.
The Lectionary Links this week are written by regular contributor Noell Rathbun-Cook.