Year A: December 22, 2019
First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-16
That’s Not Fair! Emma Tenayuca’s Struggle for Justice by Carmen Tafolla
(Written for ages 4-9)
Comment: King Ahaz and the people were scared. Samaria and Syria were going to attack them. God sent Isaiah to Ahaz to give him an encouraging promise but Ahaz refused to ask for it. Then Isaiah shared the promise anyway – the promise that a child would be born, a child named Immanuel. Before that child would be old enough to choose good or evil both Samaria and Syria would be destroyed – and they were eventually destroyed by Assyria. But Ahaz and Judah would be judged by God as well. Isaiah saw in the birth of a child, possibly his own, God’s promise for the future. Immanuel means “God with us.” Christians had seen in these words, through the years, the promise of Jesus Christ. In today’s book, a child brings hope to her own community by organizing and speaking to those who hold power over them. In the 1920’s, as a young girl, Emma Tecayuna begins to notice the injustices towards Mexican-Americans who provided most of the work for pecan shelling factories in San Antonio, TX. She is a person of deep compassion and as a child, offered many gifts of kindness to those around her, By the time she was 21, she realized that more needed to be done and she organized a strike on the factories that led to better wages for her community. Does God still speak to rulers and those in power today? How might God do this?
Carl and the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Most of Paul’s letters were written to churches that he had started, but he had never been to Rome. He wrote the letter to the Romans to introduce himself. Paul thought the most important fact about himself was that he had been called by God to be an apostle to the Gentiles, to tell them the good news about Jesus Christ. He had been a person who persecuted the church until one day Jesus stopped him, called him by name, and changed Paul. From that day on Paul had a special work to do because he had been called. This was the most important fact that the Romans could know about him. He traveled and preached to people who were not Jews, Gentiles, because that was the work he had been called to do. Carl is an earthworm who spends his time “moving burrowing, tunneling, digesting dead leaves, turning hard dirt into fluffy soil, day after day.” A field mouse wonders why Carl does what he does, and Carl sets off to ask a variety of animals what they think his purpose might be. They don’t know, but they share with him why they do what they do! At the end of Carl’s journey, he hears the cries of a grub beetle who doesn’t have anything to eat because there is no fluffy soil in which to dig. Carl realizes the purposes of his moving, burrowing and tunneling and begins his work again. Most of us will never have an experience like Paul had but Paul knew that every person in the church had been called to do something, maybe several things. Wonder together what kind of work God might be calling you to do.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
Father and Son: A Nativity Story by Geraldine McCaughrean
(Written for ages 6-10)
Comment: Today’s passage only appears in the Gospel of Matthew and gives us the fullest picture we have of Joseph in the Bible. We see Joseph as an honorable man, unwilling to disgrace his wife. We see him as one willing to listen to the voice of God when it was not convenient, expected or easy. We see him accepting the role of Jesus’ earthly father. We know from other places in the Bible that he is a carpenter. We are left to imagine Joseph’s experience of the birth of this child who was his son and yet not his son. Father and Son: A Nativity Story is a work of fiction that gives us some insight into the confusion and fear that trusting God might have brought Joseph. He wonders how he can possibly teach God’s son, present with God in the beginning of the world, anything of value. He concludes that he can be a helping hand, something that all children need. This book imagines what Joseph thought and felt after he accepted God’s difficult challenge. When you think about the kind of person Jesus became, can you imagine the kind of example Joseph was? Wonder today about some of the things you might imagine Joseph did with Jesus, or some of the things he might have said.
This week’s Revised Common Lectionary Links are co-written by Union Presbyterian Seminary graduates Virginia C Thomas and Ann Thomas Knox.