Year A: December 11, 2016
First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10
Chicken and Cat by Sara Varon
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Fred Gaiser suggests that one of the things we pray as we read this text is “that we ourselves become signs of the kingdom to those who are watching and waiting for God. Is the world transformed when we pass through?” A vision of this type of transformative action is seen in Varon’s wordless picture book. Cat’s experience in Chicken’s dirty, dingy city primarily makes him sad. Cat and Chicken act as agents of transformation when they plant a colorful garden in the empty lot across from Chicken’s apartment. As you reflect upon this text and story with your congregation, consider how God is calling you to become signs of the kingdom by transforming the world around you.
Second Reading: James 5:7-10
Wait by Antoinette Portis
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Dirke G. Lange interprets this text as saying: “slow down, seek first the kingdom of God, be attentive to one another, let all things happen in and for God, then all else will be given, God will grant all in God’s time.” Wait is the perfect parallel to this message of waiting and slowing down. A mother drags her son through the city streets, repeating , “Hurry!” while he savors the world around them and responds, “wait.” In the end, his waiting provides an opportunity for him and his mother to experience a double rainbow that they would have missed if they’d continued hurrying. In the midst of hurrying towards Christmas, a number of us need to hear this message of patient waiting and slowing down. In these last two weeks of Advent, encourage your congregation to truly slow down savor the experience of waiting.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 11:2-11
Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: In this text, John sends a message from prison to ask Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” The question from the very one who’d been proclaiming the coming Messiah invites us to pause and consider the experience of waiting for something or someone you anticipate but haven’t yet experienced. This is beautifully illustrated for children in Waiting for Winter. Squirrel, Hedgehog, and Bear know what snow is supposed to be like, but they’ve never experienced it. Readers will laugh as they mistake a toothbrush, a tin can, and an old sock for snow. In the now and the not yet of Advent, we are also waiting, not unlike those silly woodland creatures. Wonder together about the signs that point to Jesus as the one we’ve been waiting for.
The Revised Common Lectionary Links this week are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Noell Rathbun-Cook.