YEAR B: January 7, 2018
First Reading: Genesis 1:1-5
The Story of Creation by Martina Smith
(Written for ages 8-12)
Comment: Too often we read the story of creation, or other Bible stories for that matter, with a past-tense mentality. Doing so leads us to keep God inactive. Given the theme of this week’s lectionary texts, we see that God is most certainly active! A past-tense God is not one that will rip apart the skies to descend like a dove (Mark) or separate a darkness by creating light and deeming it to be good. Spark House’s The Story of Creation is a wonderful retelling of the whole creation narrative with some much-needed action verbs: WHISH! CRACKLE! BANG! Rather than reading Genesis 1 through a passive lens, have some fun with the story and insert the loud sounds you might imagine come when God is active and at work and alive in our midst. Maybe even a few actions, too!
Second Reading: Acts 19:1-7
This Book Will Not Be Fun by Cirocco Dunlap
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Verse four reads: “Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.’” If we translate that into simply “believe in what is to come,” we obtain both the gist of John’s baptismal message and a message of Christ’s baptism. John encourages his followers to focus and believe in the on Messiah, or the one to come after. The Holy Spirit’s presence in baptism directs our attention to the future, on that which is to come. Believe in … what’s coming. Essentially, John the Baptist’s message of baptism was that what happens here through me is not as important as that which will happen in the future and through the one who is still coming. Believe. It’s coming. Dunlap’s main character is a mouse convinced that reading a children’s book will be no fun. While he’s adamant that he’ll enjoy no part of reading this book, the readers eagerly await the point in the story when the protagonist is proven wrong. As predicted, the character breaks and enjoys the book eventually, but not before asserting a valiant effort to refrain from showing any sort of amusement. Dunlap’s book does a nice job of encouraging the reader to anticipate the moment when the arc of the story changes, thus encouraging us to believe, focus, and await that which is to come.
Gospel Reading: Mark 1:4-11
The Rain Came Down by David Shannon
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: “And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and” (v.10) … everything changed. The Gospel writer uses the Greek word schizo here, meaning torn apart or ripped, and it’s the same word used to describe the tearing of the temple curtain at Jesus’ crucifixion later in Mark’s gospel. Schizo when used in these two instances represents the dramatic activity of God in the world. When the heavens are torn apart, God descends and claims Christ as the beloved Son. This is not a quiet acclamation, rather one intended to make a statement, to denote a setting-apart, and to call attention to the changes that were to come through this man, Jesus Christ. In The Rain Came Down readers see a chain of reactions to the unexpected or unwanted rain on a Saturday morning. Tempers flare, cars collide, tensions build, and people are irritable. And then, as if there’s a shift in the skies, the sun shines again returning everyone and everything to their peaceful pre-rain demeanor. The before and after in Shannon’s story are dramatically different, just as the presence of God appearing on Christ through a ripped open sky marks a dramatic turn of events in Mark’s gospel.
Thanks to Katie Barrett Todd, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna and Director of UKirk Greensboro, for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.