Year A: February 23, 2020
First Reading: Exodus 24:12-18
Does God Know How to Tie Shoes? by Nancy White Carlstrom
(Written for ages 4 and up)
Comment: What or who does God look like? The Hebrew people have just made a covenant with God. The people have said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do”. Now God will give Moses and Joshua a special experience in God’s presence. Moses goes up to the mountain where God’s glory has settled and God called to Moses out of the cloud. The Bible only tells us that the appearance of the Lord was like a devouring fire. God is beyond our seeing, too glorious to imagine. How amazing that this God came to us in Jesus Christ so that we could see God, that this glorious God knows us by name.
Katrina has lots of questions about God. Her questions are typical of a small child – Does God know how to tie shoes? What does God wear? How does God speak? Her parents answer with paraphrases of verses from the Psalms that help Katrina (and us) imagine what our God is like. (To the question about what God might wear, her mother responds that she doesn’t know, but that God dresses the hills with joy and the meadows with sheep. Ps. 65:12-13.) Katrina’s musings and her parents’ responses from Scripture can help us ‘see’ the God who reveals God’s self to us and who loves us.
Second Reading: 2 Peter 1:16-21
This is Not a Picture Book! by Sergio Ruzzier
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Have you ever heard God speak? The author of 2nd Peter says that you have. God has spoken through the prophets and the writers of our Bible. When you listen to the scriptures read, you are listening for the words of God. It is alike a lamp shining in a dark place. When you go into a dark room usually the first thing you do is turn on a light. The Bible is like this, shining a light in a dark room. God’s word enables us to see.
Duck is excited to find a book until Duck realizes it has no pictures. “Stupid book!”, he exclaims. His friend Bug arrives and asks if Duck can read it, so Duck begins to try. Duck gets excited as he begins to recognize words. When he finds sad words, the illustrations on the page show a town that has been through war. When Duck finds wild words, the illustration shows Duck reading in a boat on a storm tossed sea. At the end of the book, Duck recognizes that all the sad, funny, peaceful, wild and happy words show Duck something of the world even as they bring him to the safety of home and those words stay with him forever. The words in the book speak both through the letters that form them and the images conveyed. The writer of 2nd Peter and Duck understand how words have their own special power to help us see things more clearly.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 17:1-9
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
(Written for ages 8-12)
Comment: The transfiguration happens in the middle of the story between Jesus’ beginning ministry and his crucifixion and resurrection. The disciples are still learning more fully about Jesus’ identity as the Son of God. As they come down from the mountain where they have had a glorious experience, they are moving towards a time in which Jesus’ vocation will bring pain and sorrow. In Feasting on the Word (Year A, Vol. 1, p. 456), Maryetta Madeleine Anschutz says the Transfiguration “is that point at which God says to the world…that there is nothing we can do to stand in the way of joy or sorrow. We cannot build God a monument and we cannot keep God safe. We also cannot escape the light that God will shed on our path. God will find us……so ‘get up and do not be afraid’.”
Katherine Paterson’s The Great Gilly Hopkins is another story of transformation that illustrates Anschutz’s statement. Gilly comes to Mamie Trotter’s house angry and afraid after being removed from yet another foster home. Her anger and ability to keep people from being close to her, built from years of disappointment from her flighty mother and from being unable to find a place to feel at home, are met with Mamie Trotter’s persistent love and a community of others who show Gilly what it is like to be family. Just as she realizes how much she truly loves them, her grandmother comes to take her back home with hopes to have her mother be more a part of her life. When Gilly leaves Mamie’s house and arrives at the airport with her grandmother to meet her mother, she realizes that her mother has no intention of being a part of her life. Calling Mamie Trotter to beg her to let her come home, Mamie reminds Gilly that she is home with her grandmother. As Mamie talks to her about how life is frequently hard, Gilly asks, “If life is so hard, why are you so happy?” Mamie repies, “Did I say bad? I said it was tough. Nothing to make you happy like doing good on a tough job.” Like Gilly and like the disciples, joy and sorrow will be a part of our lives, but we have the light of God’s love to be with us and transform all the moments of our lives.
The Revised Common Lectionary Links this week are written by alumnae Virginia C. Thomas and Ann Thomas Knox.