Year C: March 31, 2019
First Reading: Joshua 5:9-12
A Dog Wearing Shoes by Sangmi Ko
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Mini and her mom find a stray dog unlike any other stray dog. This dog is wearing shoes. Mini falls in love immediately and begs to take the dog home, so they do with the intention of holding onto the dog until it’s owner is found. The dog gets lost and after searching, Mini and her mom find the dog at the animal shelter. Eventually they find the owner for the dog and then they return to the animal shelter to pick a new dog for Mini and her family. This sweet story about responsible pet ownership, including animal adoption from a shelter, ties nicely into the scripture from Joshua for today. In these short few verses we get the end of the wilderness to Canaan transition story of the Israelites. God tells Joshua that God has chosen to “roll away” the “disgrace of Egypt” from the people, and the people, after celebrating their new, promised land with the Passover, begin to subside off of crops from the new land instead of needing manna as they did in the wilderness. This is a small section of a larger story of transition and ultimately transformation – into a new era, a new identity, and a new future. Mini and the dogs each gain a new life transition, too. Mini receives the opportunity to care for the animals, and the dogs are rescued from a shelter and given a new home, a new identity, and a new future.
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Let’s Go, Says the Pencil by Ulf Stark
(Written for ages 5-11)
Comment: “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view…” opens this portion of the second letter to the Corinthians. This section, often subtitled ‘A New Creation,’ speaks of the transformation known to us through Christ and God, who reconciled us to Godself through Christ. One commentator encourages us to use this litare, or rejoicing-focused midpoint week of Lent, to look at and celebrate transformation. Transformation, the commentator suggests, is not small changes, but rather a new mode of transportation, being, and looking to the future. In Stark’s book, several inanimate objects have a hard time visualizing life in the world beyond their house. Actually, some characters didn’t even realize that they resided in a house until Pencil enters the story. Pencil introduces himself to Cactus, Toothbrush, and Alarm Clock and together they set off on an adventure which Pencil draws and creates for them. During their city adventure they learn a lot about themselves and how they relate to, and even save, one another. This book, available at Ikea, offers an endearing tale of recognizing oneself first, and living into the transformation that comes from others being a part of our lives.
Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: It’s often difficult to offer a fresh perspective on something so familiar. In a welcome new interpretation of a very well-known parable, Dr. Amanda Brobst-Renaud shares that this parable is one of invitation. The parable of the prodigal son is one that “invites us to sit with the younger son in the messes of his own making, with the elder son in the bitterness and fear of being overlooked, and with the father as he leaves the comfort of his home to bring in all that is lost and all that feels forsaken.” Those Darn Squirrels! is the heartwarming story of Old Man Fookwire and his hatred of everything except birds. Mr. Fookwire becomes depressed each year in the fall when the birds leave, so he decides to hang bird feeders in order to keep the birds around longer. Enter the squirrels who enjoy the birdseed just as much as the birds. A competition of wits ensues as Fookwire seeks to outsmart the squirrels and fails. In the end the squirrels recognize Mr. Fookwire’s sadness and decide to bring him joy. The School Library Journal notes that this story is “a symphony of regret, respect, and sweetness,” which is also an apt way to describe our gospel lesson for today, too. As we are able to see ourselves in each of the three characters in the prodigal son parable, we will find ourselves in each of the three characters in Rubin’s book, too.
Thanks to Katie Barrett Todd, director of UKirk , Presbyterian pastor and Executive Director of UKIRK Greensboro, NC, for writig the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.