Year B: August 12, 2018
First Reading: 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown
(Written for ages 4 and up)
Comment: This story is one of my favorites for introducing the ideas of death and grief rituals – both of which are prominently on display in the story of David learning of his son’s death. It starts with one of the most striking opening lines: “The bird was dead when the children found it,” and goes on to describe the physical changes that come over the bird’s body (its heart stops beating, it gets cold and stiff) as well as what the children do to honor the bird’s life (crying, singing songs, digging a grave, planting flowers). The story of a bird dying can open up a “safe” conversation about death, giving children a reference point for when they encounter death in real life – with a pet, relative, or friend.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:25-5:2
Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
(Written for ages 2-5)
Comment: Chester and Wilson are best friends who do everything together – until Lily shows up. She is completely different from the two boys; it’s clear she makes them uncomfortable, and they try to avoid and exclude her. When they are finally able to recognize that her strangeness can be an asset, they gain a deeper respect for her. The passage from Ephesians deals with guidelines for living in community with one another, “for we are members of one another.” Chester, Wilson, and Lily learn to “be kind to one another” and “live in love” – at least until Victor shows up…
Gospel Reading: John 6:35, 41-51
Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes
(Written for ages 5-10)
Comment: Jesus’ teachings about the bread of life are abstract; younger children will do best with a simplified message: God feeds us. Older children may be able to make the connection between God’s provision and our gratitude. The collection of poems found in Thanks a Million will help children learn to appreciate all that they have and find new ways to give thanks for all God has done for us. Exploring what it means that Jesus “is the living bread that came down from heaven” will help them to gain a deeper understanding of God’s self-sacrificial love.
Thanks to Joshua Andrzejewski for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links for the past four weeks. Josh is chaplain for pediatrics and women’s health at VCU Health in Richmond, Virginia. a husband and father, an alum of Union Presbyterian Seminary, and a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Vision 2020 Team.