Year A: December 8, 2019
First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Jonah declares himself king of the playground. He sometimes rules well and sometimes doesn’t, but Lennox decides that it doesn’t matter what kind of ruler he is – SHE wants to rule the playground. So the other children begin to play by her rules. Joseph and Lennox don’t like sharing power, so they divide the playground and each make plans to grow their kingdom. Their plans, drawn on a two page spread in the middle of the book, include division and chaos. They soon discover, however, that ruling a playground without other people to play with is no fun and so they make a new plan. It involves a community that looks much different than their own kingdoms – a kingdom where everyone plays together happily.
The armies of Babylon are in Judea; there is no hope that the country can survive. They have a weak king and bad leaders. But Isaiah has hope and he describes the future. There will be a leader with God’s Spirit, a leader with wisdom, understanding, counsel and might. A leader whose delight will be in the fear of the Lord. His judgement will be based not on what he sees and hears but on the understanding that comes from righteousness. The meek will get fair judgement. In this Leader’s kingdom, animals will live peacefully together with no animal or person hurting or destroying the other, for the knowledge of God will cover the earth like the sea. This is the future that Isaiah sees: a just ruler and a peaceful world.
Second Reading: Romans 15:4-13
My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald
(Written for ages 6- 9)
Comment: Paul has written an important letter about what God has done to save us. He concludes with some words about how this means we should live. We have the scriptures to give us hope. We are to welcome one another as Christ as welcomed both Jews and Gentiles, everyone. And Paul prays for his readers that God will give them the grace to live in harmony with one another, that we may praise God with one voice. Then he offers another prayer that the God of hope will fill them with joy and peace, that they may have hope by the power of the Spirit. We can claim these prayers as being for us. We may pray them for one another.
Cartwheel moves from her home country to a new place where everything feels strange. She wraps herself in a blanket of her own words and sounds and calls it her old blanket. It brings her comfort. One day at a playground, a girl waves at her. Cartwheel wants to be her friend, but feels the sadness as always when the girl speaks and they do not share words. But they play together and each day when they meet at the park, the new friend brings her some new words to say. As she learns more words, Cartwheel begins to imagine a new blanket that eventually grows just as comfortable as her old blanket. She experiences hope and joy and comfort from the life she shares with her new friend, despite the differences that once separated them.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 3:1-12
Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry by Samantha Berger
(Written for ages 3-6)
Comment: This Sunday marks the second Sunday of Advent – a time when you may have gotten out your nativity scenes, are hearing carols on your trips to the mall, and are preparing for your congregation’s Christmas services to celebrate the birth of Christ.. In the middle of our parties and carols and decorated cookies comes John the Baptist, who doesn’t sound like a good party guest at all. But John is focusing on preparation, too – preparing his hearers to be able to recognize and welcome the one that God has promised will usher in a new kingdom. John tells his hearers that there is only one way to prepare to meet the Messiah. As the Common English Bible says, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” To prepare for Christ’s arrival, people must repent. Repentance calls for a radical change in our thinking, our acting, our believing so that we are more closely aligned with the kingdom that is both present and still anticipated through Christ. When talking with children about John’s message, “I’m sorry” is a good way to begin. Repentance is much more than saying you are sorry but it’s a good entry point. Martha is a little pig who likes to do many things, but does not say “I’m sorry”. When her actions towards her parents and her little brother are not so nice, she still won’t say she’s sorry. But she learns that her inability to acknowledge how she did wrong keeps her from things like piggy back rides, cookies and even hugs. In order to repair her family relationships and participate in the joy filled moments of their life together, she has to both be able to say I’m sorry (repent), but also show that her actions indicate she really means it!
The Revised Common Lectionary Links this week are co-written by Union Presbyterian Seminary graduates Virginia Coffin Thomas and Ann Thomas Knox.