Year A: December 18, 2016
First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-16
The Barefoot Book of Children by Tessa Strickland and Kate DePalma
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: “God’s sign of a child… matters in a world that continues to worship a vengeful God who can crush our enemies.” Barbara Lundblad highlights the strange reality of the sign God is offering in this text: Immanuel,God with us, will come to the world as a child, not the warrior some might expect. The Barefoot Book of Children highlights children’s experiences around the world: “each child is just like you, full of hopes and fears, with talents to share and stories to tell.” Today consider the talents and stories of the children in your church, and what they might reveal to us about God.
Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7
The Christmas Fox by Anik McGrory
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Dirk G. Lange suggests this epistle’s introductory statement is an invitation to reflect upon our baptismal identity. “Our lives are marked, since baptism, by the Holy Spirit… who directs us continually to our neighbor… everyone attentive to the needs of others… [in] a plot that continually brings us into an encounter with God embodied.” In McGrory’s tale, all of the animals prepare for the coming baby. While the animals prepare, fox plays and delights in the winter snow. But when the baby comes, there is room for fox, too, and he realizes he has joy to share. Using this text and story, invite your congregation to reflect upon their own baptismal identity and calling, considering the gifts they bring to share with God and the world.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
Monkey Not Ready for the Baby by Marc Brown
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In the text we read how Joseph experienced the news of the coming baby, and how his decisions around the situation, through the influence of an angel, shifted and changed. In Brown’s story readers experience Monkey’s reaction to the news that he will be a big brother. In the beginning, Monkey is not pleased with this news. With the influence of his family and friends, Monkey is able to shift his perspective, and joyfully welcome his baby sister when she arrives. By reading this text and story together with a focus on Monkey’s emotional responses, readers are invited to wonder more about the feelings Jospeh might have experienced as he first heard and processed the news of the coming baby Jesus.
Thanks to Noell Rathbun-Cook, Minister of Children, Families and Liturgical Arts at Grace Baptist Church in Richmond, VA, for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.