Year C: April 21, 2019
First Reading: Isaiah 65:17-25
Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin
(Written for ages 3-5)
Comment: The beautiful poetry of Isaiah paints a picture of peace that resounds through the ages. God brings fulfillment to the hopes of the people and creates connections that seem impossible. The dedication at the start of Peace offers a series of blessings designed to engage children’s senses and affirm their own agency in joining with God to create places of peace: “May you smell the flowers of a quiet garden … may you be a good listener to promote peace … may your words heal, not hurt.” The book itself traces the path of peace from each individual heart to homes, neighborhoods, cities, and the world. Older children will be able to connect the peace God brings to them in their own life as the start of something much bigger: a gift for the whole world, that we can work together to make a reality.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:19-26
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems
(Written for ages 2-4)
Comment: This dense theological passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians boils down to our hope in Christ and God’s ability to transform our mundane expectations into something more than we can imagine. To those who were disappointed that Jesus hadn’t overthrown the empires of this world during his time on earth, Paul suggests they aren’t thinking big enough. Christ’s work is not focused on returning the Jews to their ancestral lands or deposing earthly authorities, but rather on reconstructing the whole order of existence – to the point that death itself is overcome! Willem’s story about Elephant and Piggie trying to figure out how to play catch with their friend the snake offers a similar moment of transformation. What seems impossible at the outset becomes a catalyst for joyful discovery and hope.
Gospel Reading: John 20:1-18
The Feelings Book by Todd Parr
(Written for ages 2-4)
Comment: John’s gospel provides a tense (and intense) account of the first Easter. A vast cast of characters discover that Jesus isn’t in the tomb, and they have various emotional responses. This can be a great opportunity to help children practice empathy – making predictions about what others are feeling. How would Peter feel while running to the tomb? How does Mary feel when she’s crying outside the tomb? How might the disciples feel when they go back to their homes, not knowing where Jesus is? How does Mary feel when she sees Jesus again? How would the disciples feel when they hear her news? Parr’s book concludes with an affirmation that children can share their feelings, whatever they are, with those they love. We can share our feelings – good and bad – with each other and with God.
Thanks to Joshua Andrzejewski, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumnus and chaplain for the pediatric and women’s health units at the VCU Medical Center, Richmond, VA, for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.