Year A: January 19, 2020
First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-7
Goodbye Friend! Hello Friend! by Cori Doerrfield
(Written for ages 5-7)
Comment: How would you feel if you had been defeated and sent away from your home for 75 years? The people of Israel had every reason to think God had forgotten about them, that God had no use for them. But Isaiah speaks for God: ” You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” This is too hard to believe, but God says more. “You won’t be just a servant to raise up Israel. You will become a light to the nation. My salvation will reach to the end of the earth.” This isn’t just a last minute plan of God’s. God had this in mind before Israel even became God’s people. Even when the servant had not felt up to the first task, God says that even so, I have created you for even more than you imagined. The Israelites may have heard the first words as a relief, but God says their story isn’t finished yet. Amy Oden points out that this passage is one in which God speaks to particular moments, but also to God’s grander plan. In every one of our stories, “.. so-called endings are beginnings, each a new horizon of possibility. Not for ourselves alone, but for the world God loves.” Two friends in our book today experience the continuation of stories. As they say goodbye to outside, they say hello to inside. As they say goodbye to playing hard all day, they say hello to sweet dreams. Just like the servants’ call does not end with the restoration of Israel, the endings to particular things they are doing make way for new beginnings. Wonder together how God might be using the stories of our lives for God’s glory.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Paul is at work in Ephesus with his friend (brother) Sosthenes, preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. He is about 550 miles from Corinth, a long trip in those days, and he has heard of divisions in the church at Corinth where he spent nearly 18 months. Over the next few weeks, we’ll hear about the troubles that the church in Corinth is having, but in today’s greeting, Paul begins his letter by saying that they are sanctified – they live in Christ and can grow to be like him – and have been given everything they need to do that through God’s grace. The Dot begins with Vashti scowling at her blank piece of paper after art class. “I just can’t draw!” she says. Her teacher encourages her to make a mark and see where it takes her. After Vashti stabs her pencil on the paper, making a dot her teacher pushes the paper towards her and quietly says, “Now sign it”. Now that is something Vashti can do. When she arrives at art class the following week, her signed dot picture is framed. “I can make a better dot than that,” she muses. And so she does….lots and lots of dots, expanding and enlarging on her first effort. When a young boy looks at her dots and wishes he could draw like her, Vashti takes his piece of paper with a tiny squiggle and offers it back to him with the gentle command, “Sign it”. Vashti needed a teacher to encourage and remind her of what was available to her in order for her to become an artist. Paul is reminding the Corinthians of what they have been given in order to live sanctified lives in Christ.
Gospel Reading: John 1:29-42
Say Something! by Peter H. Reynolds
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Most of us are familiar with the call of Jesus to disciples by the Sea of Galilee. That is how the first three Gospels record the calling of the disciples. Jesus speaks, and disciples follow. But John follows a very different pattern. In John, disciples follow after hearing someone else speak about Jesus. Andrew follows Jesus after hearing John speak about him. Then Andrew tells his brother about Jesus and Simon Peter follows. In the second Reynolds’ book today, the author speaks about the important of using your voice to say something. He expands how we speak by including such things as speaking through our actions and our creativity, but you will want to focus on using one’s voice and words to say something. Wonder together what you would tell someone about Jesus.
The Revised Common Lectionary Links for today are co-written by frequent book reviewer Virginia C. Thomas and Ann Thomas Knox.