Baptism of the Lord
First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-9
You Wouldn’t Want to be a Suffragist! by Fiona Macdonald
(Written for 8-11)
Comment: The subtitle of this book is: A Protest Movement That’s Rougher Than You’d Expected. The Suffragist and the Suffragette movements demanded people who were outspoken, organized, and determined to earn the right for women to vote, as well as to help end slavery. In this story, however, we learn that the movements were not simple, calm, or even blemish-free. One synopsis offers: “If you believe in equal rights for women – including the right to vote – you wouldn’t want to be a suffragist! You could wind up in a filthy jail cell, on a diet of bread and water and sentenced to silence, just for speaking your mind.” In this book we are introduced to several women leaders and heroes: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton,and Sojourner Truth, to name a few. The story of women’s right to vote movements is one of persons who felt a call to make a difference. They were almost commissioned, you could say. They knew something needed to be done, and they encouraged others along the way to help make a change. In Isaiah’s Servant Song we see leadership that is called, commissioned, and named by God. When the community was fractured and questioning God’s ability to protect, care for, and attend to God’s people, the prophet assures them that in the dark of night, God is present. The prophet reminds them that the God of creation is the same Lord who commissioned and commanded the people to be a light to the nations, free prisoners, open blind eyes, and keep covenant. The people just needed to be reminded and be encouraged. Then, like the Suffragists and Suffragettes, they could move forward to work for change.
Second Reading: Acts 10:34-43
The Storyteller’s Candle: La velita de los cuentos by Lucia Gonzalez
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: This bilingual tale of the first Puerto Rican library in New York is a great story for this day in our liturgical calendar. While it does not speak to the baptism of Christ, it tells a story of Epiphany. When Peter shares the gospel with the Gentiles, he is telling the story of God’s work in Christ. Peter is making a confession, telling a whole story in brief, and sharing the Good News of the gospel. Peter doesn’t hesitate to tell the Gentiles that Christ has commanded all the prophets and disciples to testify about him so “that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through is name.” In our book, Hildamar and Stantiago are cold and missing home in Puerto Rico in the winter of 1929, especially as Three Kings Day is approaching. One day the librarian Pura Belpre comes to their school to speak to their class. She speaks in English and Spanish, and she shares stories while inviting everyone to visit the library. A few days later, when the children visit the library with their parents, they learn that the librarian is seeking volunteers to help tell the stories told in Puerto Rico on Three Kings Day. The community gathers together to build the set, make the costumes, and put on the play so that the stories will be shared and the festivities will make everyone feel at home. Pura Belpre worked to keep the stories of her heritage alive in her new community, because she knew the importance of embracing roots, sharing good news, and getting everyone involved. As God commands, we must tell what we learn and seek to share the good news with everyone.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 3:13-17
A Special Kind of Love By Stephen Michael King
(Written for ages 4 & up)
Comment: It’s not every day that a parent descends a dove onto your head and declares to an audience, “This is my [child], the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Parents may kiss us on the head, or pat us on the back to tell us they are proud of us, but declaring to the world such sentiments are not the norm. The story of Christ’s baptism is a familiar one, and one that children might find a bit odd with the way that God declares his pride and love for his son, Jesus. Parents do things very differently from family to family, and the story of the man who loved boxes is an example of abnormal parenting. This dad loved his son, and he loved boxes, but he didn’t know how to tell his son that he loved him, so he made his son special gifts and toys out of boxes – boxes of all shapes and sizes. He’d build castles, airplanes, forts, and cars. And people thought he was very strange and laughed behind his back. He wasn’t phased, however, because through building special things with boxes, he was showing the world and his son how much he loved him. That’s how he said, “I love you.” The story of Christ’s baptism offers us a glimpse at a unique parent/child relationship, one where we get to see the depth of pride and love the Father has for his Son. “This is my [child], the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased,” is how God told Jesus, and all of us as God’s children, “I love you.”
Thanks to Katie Barrett Todd, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna, for writing the Lectionary Links for us these past two weeks.