First Sunday in Lent
Year 1: March 10, 2019
Preaching Text: Matthew 18:15-35
A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In this passage, Jesus teaches the disciples about different ways of addressing hurt in our relationships. One of the things he talks about is resolving disputes in the church. Jesus tells them to resolve disputes by speaking honestly and directly to one another and facing problems openly to see if the people involved can be reconciled. In A Bargain for Frances, Frances and Thelma have a history of disputes, which usually end with Frances getting hurt. Throughout the course of the story, Thelma first plays yet another trick on Frances, and subsequently, Frances plays a trick on Thelma in return. Nobody is very happy in this situation. Finally, Frances and Thelma talk face to face, and both acknowledge that they played tricks and hurt each other. They tentatively agree to be friends again, with Frances asking “Do you want to be careful, or do you want to be friends?” If they kept going they way they had been, they would have to be careful with each other all the time, not really able to trust each other. Now, having addressed their disputes honestly and attempted to resolve them, they can try to be true friends. Like Frances and Thelma, Jesus tells us that the best way to be the church is to speak honestly and directly to each other about the ways we’ve hurt each other, rather than be passive-aggressive, bitter, or playing tricks. By speaking honestly and directly and openly, and allowing the possibility for reconciliation, it makes it so we can be friends rather than having to be careful.
Thanks to Sara Anne Berger, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Nachitoches, LA, for writing the Year 1 Narrative Lectionary Links.