Year A: March 15, 2020
First Reading: Exodus 17:1-7
What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada
(Written for ages 5–8)
Comment: Have you ever been thirsty and could get nothing to drink? Did you complain to your parents or a friend? Then you know something about what the Israelites felt. They were traveling through the wilderness and stopping to camp. There was absolutely no water. So they complained to Moses and doubted that God was with them. While the people complained to him, Moses turned to God. “What shall I do?” God told Moses to go ahead of the people, taking some of the elders with him as well as the staff he had used in Egypt. “I will be standing there in front of you. Strike the rock before you and water will come out.” God provided water for the complaining people and Moses gave the place an unhappy name, Massah and Meribah which means to test and find fault. There are two ways to deal with a problem or need in this story-complaining or turning to God.
A young boy has a problem. He doesn’t know want it now does he know what to do about it. He scowls at it. He ignores it. And he worries. He worries about what could happen and what would happen. The illustrations show the problem – portrayed as a dark cloud – getting bigger and bigger as the boy does nothing but react and worry. Eventually, the boy realizes he has other choices about how to view his problem. He recognizes that his problem provides an opportunity for something good. The Israelites had an opportunity to see God’s love and guidance in their problem and we have opportunities to see God with us in the challenges we face.
Second Reading: Romans 5:1-11
Hope Is An Open Heart by Lauren Thompson
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: God has given us a gift because God loves us. Since he has given us the gift of our Lord Jesus Christ, we hope to share God’s glory. This is a sure hope because “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It was not because we were God that Christ freed us from sin but because God loved us. Since God gave us this gift of friendship with God-Paul calls it reconciliation- we can be sure that we will live with God each day. If you like to collect big words, Paul gives us lots of them: justification, reconciliation are two. They all point to the hope we have by being accepted and loved by God as God’s children because we are brothers and sisters of Christ.
Photographs of children around the world pair with brief descriptions of hope that are rooted in such things as relationships, forgiveness, joy, making the world a better place. “Hope is sad tears flowing, making room for joy” is accompanied by a picture of a young girl with a single tear running down her face. Although some of the pairings may be over the heads of the youngest children, they are excellent images of the kind of hope that Paul speaks of – stronger than our failures, shared in community with others, and a light for our darkness.
Gospel Reading: John 4:5-42
Benji, the Bad Day, and Me by Sally J. Pla
(Written for ages 5-8)
Comment: Christ’s recognition of the belovedness of all whom he encountered – whether the world deemed them worthy or not – enables many who met him to turn towards that love and change. The Samaritan woman is one such person. A person who would be despised by Jews, and who is portrayed as one at odds in her society, Jesus sees her for who she is and she in turn recognizes Jesus for who he is and is changed. Her encounter with Jesus brings recognition and transformation.
Sammy has had a terrible day. He arrives home from school hungry, cold and wet, but his autistic younger brother, Benji, is having a bad day as well and his family is preoccupied with helping Benji cope with his emotions. As Benji stays in his special box – a place he feels safe – with his blue blanket, Sammy feels lonely, unseen and ignored. When he finally collapses in tears, Benji comes to him and takes him to his blue blanket that is spread out on the floor. Benji wraps Sammy up tight and looking him in the eye says, “You are my little burrito”. This familiar refrain, always said to Benji as he is wrapped up, allows Sammy to feel recognized and loved. Benji recognized Sammy’s pain and offered him the gift of love which changed his day.
The Revised Common Lectionary Links this week are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary graduates Virginia C. Thomas and Ann Thomas Knox.