Year A: August 6, 2017
First Reading: Genesis 32:22-31
Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: In Excellent Ed, Ed the dog feels left out because everyone in his family (the humans, that is) excel at something, but he doesn’t. He thinks everyone else in the family is excellent, but he is not, particularly after he tries some activities that aren’t meant for him, fails, and becomes even more dejected. But his family reminds him of all the things he is good at, the things only a dog can do: greet them when they return home, snuggle with them and keep them warm, eat the food off the floor and clean it up. Ed is excited to realize that he is, after all, Excellent Ed. In Genesis, Jacob wrestles all night with an angel, and at the end of the wrestling match, demands a blessing. The blessing comes in the form of a new name, Jacob is no longer called Jacob, but Israel, instead. This new name is a name of who he truly is and will be from now on. God calls us by new names, our true names, names that reflect the future God has prepared for us, and so we can have confidence in that.
Second Reading: Romans 9:1-5
Also An Octopus by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: In Feasting on the Word: Year A, Volume 3, Kyle D. Fedler writes of this passage, “Romans 9-11 is an assurance that God can fulfill God’s covenant with humanity despite human unfaithfulness. It is about expansion, not exclusion…The entire thrust of chapter 9 is an expansion of the covenant from Jewish believers to Gentile nonbelievers.” Rather than forgetting the earlier chapters of the covenant story, God is including, and building on what has already happened, as the story’s narrative continues. In Also An Octopus, we see the process of how a story begins and builds, starting with a little bit of nothing, and then new characters and plot are added. An octopus with a ukulele, a rabbit to fix a mess, waffles and umbrellas, and more, each element included and building on one another. Our job as people of faith is to know and build on the ways God’s story has unfolded thus far, and to watch as God’s story continues to unfold with new people in new times.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 14:13-21
One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway
(Written for ages 8-12)
Comment: In our Matthew passage, Jesus, though pulled from his private time, sees the crowds of people and has compassion on them. He sees that they are hungry, and even though there are so many of them, he feeds all of them—a crowd of at least 5,000 people. And he feeds them with the seemingly paltry offering of five loaves of bread, and two little fish. But that offering, in the hands of Jesus, becomes so much more. Similarly, in the book One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, Kojo’s family in Ghana lives in a village beset by poverty and his family cannot afford his school fees. The families of the village come up with a plan that they will pool a sum of money and offer that small amount to each family in turn. When Kojo’s family is offered the loan, he uses a portion of it to buy a hen, and the hen lays eggs which he then turns around and sells to buy more hens. Eventually, from that small loan, enough profit comes that he is able to afford schooling, help his family, and offer loans to other villagers. We see how even simple generosity has a profound impact on the world, and as Jesus’ disciples we know that anything we offer to Jesus has an even greater impact.
Thanks to Sara Anne Berger, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Nachitoches, LA, for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.