Year C: June 2, 2019
First Reading: Acts 16:16-34
Lulu is a Rhinoceros by Jason Flom with Allison Flom
(written for ages 5-8)
Comment: Paul and Silas come upon a slave girl with a special spirit who is being used by her owners to make a profit. Paul calls the spirit “to come out of her” (v. 18), which causes the owners great distress. They take Paul and Silas to court, which eventually lands them in jail. Their case against Paul and Silas is grounded in cultural and religious differences. Their attempt is to, as Luke Powery names it, “demonize difference.” Everyone knows that Lulu is a bulldog. When you look at her, it is plain to see. But that’s not what Lulu sees. When Lulu looks in the mirror, she sees a rhinoceros. Lulu attempts to tell everyone that she is not a bulldog, but a rhinoceros. Eventually, Lulu ends up at the zoo where she tumbles into the rhinoceros exhibit and she feels at home. On the surface, Lulu is different, and it would be easy to demonize her based on her self-identity, culture, or beliefs. Children too can feel demonized by peers or adults because they do not say the right things, act the right way, or appear as others think they should. The slave girl, Paul, and Lulu remind us of the danger of demonizing the other.
Second Reading: Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
Just a Little Different by Gina and Mercer Mayer
(written for ages 3-7)
Comment: In this Little Critter book, a new family moves into the neighborhood. But this family is different. Zack’s mother is a rabbit and his father is a turtle. As such, Zack has rabbit and turtle features. At first the kids aren’t sure what to make of Zack. But they soon learn that differences are okay, and they welcome Zack and invite him to play with them. Multiple times in the Revelation text, we hear, “Come.” The invitation has been extended to come and be with each other, not to be separated. As such, we are called to welcome others as Christ has welcomed us. We are to extend a similar hospitality to the Other to “Come.”
The Reptile Club by Maureen Fergus
(written for ages 3-8)
Comment: Rory can’t find a club at school that is right for him. His parents suggest he start a club for something he loves. So, Rory starts a Reptile Club. At the first meeting, no one shows up. Rory waits and waits and waits. And then, there is someone at the door. A crocodile, an anaconda, and a gecko. The four start the club meeting, and when the other kids see what the Reptile Club is all about, they want to join too. In one scene, the reptiles do not want to let mammals join the club. Rory points that he is a mammal and “it wasn’t nice to be prejudiced against others just because they had hair and could regulate their body temperature.” Rory has red-orange hair and wears glasses. He knows about being different. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus calls us to be united. It is far easier to be divided and far more difficult to be one. As with all the lectionary readings for this Sunday, it is so easy to discriminate and “demonize difference.” We are reminded that our discipleship calls us to resist a divisive world.
Thanks to Union Presbyterian Semnary alumnus Jason C. Stanley for writing the Revised Common Lectionaary Links this week.