Year A: February 9, 2020
First Reading: Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
Best Friends for Frances by Russell Hoban
(Written for ages 4 -8)
Comment: The Israelites have felt abandoned by God during their exile and are flummoxed as to why God hasn’t answered their prayers. God responds that their public displays of faith – prayer and fasting – are not the real thing because they are selfish. Prayers and fasting should lead to justice – to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, bringing the homeless into your homes. Prayers and fasting that exist only to get you something you want do not honor God. Frances the badger is upset when her best friend Albert goes off to a boys only event. Frustrated, she heads home and determines that her little sister, Gloria, will now be her friend and Frances will orchestrate a picnic and playtime with Gloria that will make Albert jealous. By the end of the book, Frances and Gloria really are friends and their circle expands to include Albert as they all play together. Frances started her ‘best friendship’ with Gloria to spite Albert, but ends with friendships that include everyone.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)
Douglas, You Need Glasses! by Ged Adamson
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: As Paul writes to the Corinthians, he reminds them of his single minded focus – the crucified Christ. It is through Christ and the gift of God’s spirit that the Corinthians -and us – are enabled to see the world as God sees it. If we look around the world, we are tempted to see and desire power, more material possessions, status. Paul says that through the gift of God’s spirit, God’s wisdom allows us to see the world differently and to focus on a world in which the crucified Christ shows us what is important. Paul urges the Corinthians to see the world through the lens of Christ and act accordingly. Douglas is a very near sighted dog. He chases a leaf that he is sure is a squirrel. He can’t see the sign that says no dogs allowed, so he causes havoc at the skateboard park. He sometimes even goes to the wrong house. When his owner takes him to the eye doctor and he gets new glasses, he sees the world in an amazing new way! Like Douglas, we are enabled to see the world and those around us in a new way through the gift of Christ and God’s spirit.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:13-20
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
(Written for ages 6-9)
Comment: You are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. These familiar words help define our identity as Christians. We are not just recipients of God’s blessings, but called to show God’s love and justice in the world by how we live. These metaphors tell us both who we are and how we are to engage with others in our world. he classic One Hundred Dresses is a story that can help congregations think about what happens we act as salt that has lost its flavor. Wanda Petronski has a ‘funny’ last name, wears the same ragged dress to school every day and claims to have 100 self-designed dresses at home. All of this leads to such merciless teasing. Maddie, another student in the class, is terribly uncomfortable with the teasing, but stands silently b while it happens, afraid to say anything. Eventually, the teasing leads Wanda’s father sends a note to school indicating that his family will be moving to the big city where there are plenty of people with ‘funny’ names. When Wanda’s artwork of 100 dresses she has designed wins the school art contest, the other students realize they have never really known her and they eventually reach out through a letter asking for her forgiveness. The reluctance to speak up in the face of injustice can be an example of a way that does not show people acting as salt and light, just as the ability to ask for forgiveness (and to offer forgiveness as Wanda does), is a way of reflecting God’s love. Wonder together of ways that your congregation can be salt and light to the world.
The Revised Common Lectionary Links this week are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Ann Thomas Knox.