SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
YEAR C: February 17, 2019
First Reading: Jeremiah 17: 5-10
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
(Written for ages 5-6)
Comment: This week’s text from Jeremiah is filled with rich imagery: a shrub in the desert, parched places of the wilderness, a tree by water with leaves that stay green and roots that stretch out into a stream. Jeremiah juxtaposes such images of wet and of dry illustrating those who trust only in themselves and their own strength and those who place their trust in the Lord, respectively. Trusting in God can lead to life lush with God’s love and compassion. Peter Brown’s book can help young minds picture the imagery that the prophet Jeremiah writes of.
Brown provides juxtaposes similar parched and lush imagery in his story of a young boy, Liam. Liam decides to take care of struggling garden he encounters in his city, where there is no greenery, trees, or gardens. As Liam works to restore the garden, the illustrations become more and more colorful, drawing more people in and bringing life back to his city. Similar to how Liam’s city was transformed, our lives, too, can be transformed when we choose to trust in God.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15: 12-20
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
(Written for ages 3-5)
Comment: Paul urges the Corinthians to be genuine and authentic in their witness to their faith in Christ. The Corinthians’ words and actions can represent Christ to others, and Paul hopes that their representation of Christ is authentic and genuine, and not in vain. In addition, Paul urges the Corinthians to have faith that is both authentic and genuine, too. In his 1936 classic, Munro Leaf explores what it means to be authentic to who you are through the story of a little bull named Ferdinand, who lived in Spain. His favorite activity was to sit quietly and smell the flowers in the field, while the other bulls liked to run, jump, and bump their heads together. When he is older, Ferdinand is chosen to travel to Madrid to compete in a bullfight, though he would rather be back home smelling the flowers. When it is time to compete in the ring, instead of battling another bull, Ferdinand lies down to enjoy the flowers in the female spectator hair. He can’t hide that flowers are his thing (rather than fighting). With Paul’s urging and Ferdinand’s example, faith communities can explore how they can be genuine in their faith and authentic to the Christian witness that God has called them to.
Third Reading: Luke 6: 17-26
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In Mary Hoffman’s Amazing Grace, young Grace loves stories, and often acts them out, giving herself the most exciting parts. When Grace learns of her class’s production of Peter Pan, she immediately dreams of taking on the lead role. But her classmates don’t think she is right for the part because she is a girl and because she is black. Grace tells her family about her classmates’ comments. Her mother and grandmother encourage her and take her to a performance by a ballet dancer from Trinidad. When the time comes for auditions, Grace shines and leaves behind the hurt she experienced a few days earlier. Sometimes through life’s tough experiences, we grow and we learn, and we may even experience God’s blessings. In Jesus’ words to his disciples, he pronounces blessings upon those who are experiencing tough things, such as poverty or grief. Even in the midst of such tough times, Jesus sees the potential for blessings and for positive experiences that counteract the tough ones. Even through her tough experiences, Grace grew and shined. How have you experienced blessings in times that were tough when you wouldn’t expect it? How did you learn and grow?
Thanks to Rosy Robson, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna and associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church Richardson, TX, for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links for the past seven weeks.