Year A: August 27th, 2017
First Reading:Exodus 1:8-2:10
Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door by Adam Rubin
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In Exodus, we’re told that a new Pharaoh came to power in Egypt, one who had not known Joseph, one who was fearful and formed a terrible plan to annihilate all the male children born in the Hebrew communities. But several brave people fight this new Pharaoh’s terrible plan. The two Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, protect mothers and babies, covering for them when male children are born. The mother of the young man who becomes Moses protects him by sending him down the river in a basket. And, unexpectedly, the daughter of Pharaoh, who one might have thought would be supporting her father’s plan, finds the baby in the basket and decides to protect him and raise him as her own. In Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door, Ms. Hu and her cat, Muffins, move in next door to Mr. Fookwire. Muffins is a terror to everyone, especially to the birds, whom Mr. Fookwire loves to watch, and also to the squirrels. Typically the squirrels and Mr. Fookwire are at odds with one another, but when Muffins arrives, they share a problem. When the squirrels play a trick on Muffins that puts an end to his terrorizing of them, even grumpy Mr. Fookwire is glad because now his birds are safe as well. Like the squirrels who ended up protecting the birds from Muffins and pleasing Mr. Fookwire, in Exodus, people stepped up when a terrible thing was happening, and chose to protect—even people we might not have expected! We can’t always stop the terrible plans or horrible events in our world, but we can choose our response, and choose to protect and defend those who are being hurt.
Second Reading: Romans 12:1-8
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Rosa tells the famous story of Rosa Parks, who bravely chose to confront Montgomery, Alabama’s racist segregation laws on buses by choosing to sit in the front of the bus, where, according to the law, she wasn’t allowed to sit. Rosa Parks used her body, her very self, to challenge unjust laws, and in doing so, she inspired a full bus boycott and eventually a change in the law. In Romans, Paul writes that people should present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,and that they should not be conformed to this world. Paul also describes the beauty of how bodies are made with different parts, that all have a purpose, and how we all have gifts to use, gifts that show in our bodies, that impact other people. Certainly our minds and our spirits matter to God, but as Paul shows us in Romans, God also cares what we do with our bodies, how we use them, and especially how we use the gifts in them for other people. Rosa Parks visibly and boldly used her body and where she placed it, in order to challenge and prophesy, and a transformation began as a result. What we do with our bodies matters as people of faith, and we can present them to God to be used for transformation.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:13-20
The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: Among the things Jesus says to the disciples is that whatever they bind on earth will be bound, and whatever they loose on earth will be loosed. Jesus recognizes the importance of what we claim and the relationships we have and intentionally make. So, too, does the woman in The Old Woman Who Named Things, but in her case, she is desperately afraid of being bound to anything. After many of her friends die, she decides she can’t bear the heartbreak anymore, knowing that things with names hurt when they are gone. So she only names things that she believes she will never lose, that will outlive her: her car, her bed, her house. But then a puppy arrives, and she doesn’t want to welcome him, doesn’t want to name him. She eventually starts feeding him, but still refuses to name him, refuses to bind him to her. But one day the dog doesn’t come, and because she hasn’t given it a name, she realizes that the dog has no collar and no name, and so, “no one would ever be able to know these things about it”. Finally, she finds the dog, and in gratitude she gives it a name. The old woman already knew the power of binding and loosing, she was just desperately afraid of the binding. Jesus also knows that power, and tells the disciples about it, so that they will pay attention to the connections they make, that they will be intentional about binding and loosing, about claiming and relationships. As disciples, we have the same authority, and the same call, that what we bind is bound, and what we loose is loosed, and we need to do so without fear, but with love and intention.
Thanks to Union Presbyterian Senminary alumna Sara Anne Berger for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.