Year 2: March 29, 2020
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
(Written for ages 5-8)
Comment: Jesus’ predictions about the end times are opaque and confusing. The disciples ask for a clear timeline as to when such things will happen, and he resists giving them clear answers. Instead of a timeline, he gives them a message of hope – perhaps one that will help them through the devastating times ahead, when he will be crucified and die. Jesus explains that, though there will be many difficult times in the future (wars and rumors of war, famines, earthquakes), these will be “the beginning of the birth pangs.” We can help children to adopt an attitude of gratitude that the scary things are not the end of the story. In Thunder Cake, Polacco draws from childhood memories of her Babushka, who helped her deal with a fear of thunder. With a storm coming and thunder rumbling in the distance, they begin to gather ingredients for a thunder cake. Babushka teaches the main character to count the time between the lightning and the thunder, telling how far away the storm is (much like Jesus teaching his disciples to look for signs and be aware of what’s going on). By the end of the story, Babushka shows the girl how brave she’s been, coming out from under the bed and finding ingredients despite her fears. Children can be grateful for Jesus’ example that courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear, but rather the ability to keep doing what needs to be done, even when we are scared.
Thanks to Joshua Andrzejewski, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumnus and chaplain for the pediatric and women’s health units in the VCU Medical Center, for writing the Year 2 Narrative Lectionary Links.