8th Sunday After Pentecost
Year A: July 30, 2017
First Reading: Genesis 29:15-28
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In Genesis, Jacob loves Rachel. He wants to marry her, and in order to win her father’s approval for the marriage, he is willing to work. Eventually he works for seven years just to marry Rachel, but our passage tells us that because of his love, those seven years flew by for him. And even though from a current context we may be troubled by the relationship between Jacob, Rachel, and Leah, for Jacob, the trick involving Leah was not something he wanted to happen, and yet for the sake of Rachel and his love for her, he worked for seven more years. His love is what drove him and made him willing to work and sacrifice. In A Chair for My Mother”, a young girl sees how her mother and grandmother work, her mother as a waitress at a diner, her grandmother searching for bargains and savings. She sees how they sacrifice spending now, and what they might want now, so they can save every bit of change. And in the end that sacrifice pays off in the purchase of a comfortable easy chair for their home, the comfort of which, in particular, her mother gets to enjoy after long days of waitressing. Their work and sacrifice paid off in something that they wanted later, and which added joy and love to their home. Like Jacob, we may be asked by God to sacrifice and work, but if love is driving us, then we hope that our sacrifice and work, too, will seem like no time and effort in the end.
Second Reading: Romans 8:26-39
The Night Gardener by Terry Fan
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In The Night Gardener, William’s town is sad and the people feel uninspired. But one day incredible topiaries begin appearing in the parks around town, created by someone unknown. The topiaries are so beautiful and exciting that the people begin to feel happy and inspired. They hold celebrations and wake up expectantly, hoping for a new topiary. Eventually, William discovers the mysterious night gardener, who shows him how to create topiaries of his own. And even when the trees are bare and the night gardener isn’t at work, William and the people in his town are never the same. The community is changed into a hopeful, connected, celebratory place. In our Romans passage, we’re told that the Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us; that no matter what we’re facing, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Knowing that the Spirit is helping us, that God is with us, provides us with an inner hope and confidence, and we are never the same. Just as the night gardener helped William and the town, the Spirit helps us when we are at our weakes and most despairing. God is with us, no matter what we’re up against.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
Poor Little Guy by Elanna Allen
(Written for ages 3-5)
Comment: In several of the parables Jesus tells in this passage, the tiniest things prove to be more than one might have expected. He tells about a tiny mustard seed, growing large enough to provide a home for the birds, a little bit of yeast causing all of the dough to rise, a little treasure in the middle of a wide field, one little pearl of great price. Similarly, in Poor Little Guy, a tiny fish gets teased and tossed around by a much bigger octopus, who merely regards him as little and cute. Eventually the octopus tries to eat him, and that’s when the “poor little” fish shows that he is a puffer fish! He expands, injuring the octopus enough to get himself free, and prove that tiny things can make a big impact. Like this tiny fish, Jesus knew that little things are more than meet the eye, and especially in God’s realm. As people of faith, we cannot ignore the mustard seeds and pearls, the little things, because they may turn out to be so much more.
Thanks to Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Sara Anne Berger for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.