Year A: December 1, 2019
First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
Can’t You Sleep, Litte Bear? by Martin Waddell
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Isaiah has given the people of Judah some very bad news. The people’s disobedience will bring God’s judgement on the city. But Isaiah holds out hope, Isaiah speaks of “seeing” God’s word concerning Judah and Jerusalem. The words we heard today weren’t printed in a book when Isaiah first said them. How could people “see” God’s word? Isaiah uses many pictures to help people see the good news that may come.
God’s house will be the highest mountain in the world. Everybody will be walking toward it. They will be walking on a path that marks the way of God, and God’s word will come from Jerusalem to teach the pilgrims. In God’s future there will be no war. People will beat their swords into plowshares. (There may be many in your congregation who have never seen a plowshare or a pruning hook. A good Bible dictionary might be useful if you want to use those word pictures to help your congregation think about those implements and their uses.)
But God’s light is also an image used in this passage. With the bad news Isaiah brings, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that the people of Judah are in a dark place – worried and fearful. Isaiah holds out the promise of God’s light that shows the people how to live in a new way. Big Bear puts Little Bear to sleep in a dark park of the cave and settles in to read a book by the fire. Little Bear calls out, saying he is afraid of the dark, and Big Bear brings a small lantern to provide light. It’s not enough for Little Bear and he calls out two more times. Each call brings Big Bear with a bigger lantern, but it still isn’t enough to quell Little Bear’s fears. Finally, Big Bear takes Little Bear outside where he sees the bright, full moon and the hundreds of glowing stars. This light enables Little Bear to lay aside his fears and go to sleep.
Helen Keller once said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” Isaiah has offered the people a vision of God’s kingdom. Can you “see” the good future that God is promising?
Second Reading: Romans 13:11-14
A Hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke
(Written for ages 3 – 5)
Comment: What time is it now? The time to go to worship? The time to be home for supper? The time to get ready for school? Paul is reminding his readers that time is important. He is saying, “Don’t sleep through the important things God is doing…. Get ready”. Paul makes some good suggestions about how we need to live to be ready. The most important one is dress in Christ. We do that by thinking as he thinks, giving as he gives, praising as Christ praises.. This will crowd out the bad things we might want to do. And the time to do this is now – not later! Minerva Louise is a hen who wakes up to a lovely snowy morning and wants to go outside. No other hens want to join her to experience what they think is an awful morning. Minerva Louise knows that she must dress herself warmly in order to enjoy the day that lies before her, so she tries on a variety of things to find the clothes that will help her face her cold, snowy day, prepared and ready. What she tries on is surprising, but is just what she needs to participate in what the snowy day brings. How do you use your time to get ready for the important things God is doing in our world?
Gospel Reading: Matthew 24:36-44
Good Morning, Snowplow! by Deborah Bruss
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Matthew 24-25 contains passages in which Jesus speaks about his return at the end of time. Apocalyptic literature in the Bible has frequently been read in ways that seek to pin down exactly when Jesus will return again. But in verse 36, Jesus states that not even he knows when that time will be. What is more important is what we do while we wait. And on that point, Jesus is more clear. As Ben Witherington says, “…God reveals enough about the future to give us hope, but not so much that we do not have to live and walk by faith day by day.”
As Good Morning, Snowplow begins, it is night and tiny snowflakes are falling. Everyone prepares to shut down for the night, except for the snowplow. The snowplow begins preparing for the work it must do – checking signal lights, putting on chains. Then, as others sleep, the snowplow works through the night, making the roads safe for people when they wake up the next day. How are we staying alert to the work that God calls us to do to participate in God’s kingdom?
This begins Year A in the Revised Common Lectionary cycle. These links were co-written by Union Presbyterian Seminary graduates Virginia C. Thomas and Ann Thomas Knox.