Year A: March 8, 2020
First Reading: Genesis 12:1-4a
Mailing May by Michael O. Tunnell
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: These are some of the most exciting words in the Bible because they tell of the beginning of God’s wonderful plan to overcome the sin that infected the world beginning with the first human beings. “God said to Abram.” God, the creator and ruler of the universe, spoke to one man and said , “Go.” “Leave your country, your kinfolks and go…” God made some wonderful promises about how God would work through Abram: a great nation, great blessings, blessings for all the world. The next words are equally exciting: Abram went. Suppose he had decided not to listen to God? God hadn’t told him where he was going. But God spoke and Abram went. This is the beginning of a miraculous journey with God.
May’s parents have promised she can visit her grandmother who lives across the mountains in Idaho, but her parents cannot afford a train ticket. When the U.S. Postal service introduces new rules for domestic parcel post, her parents quickly act on these new rules and decide to mail May to her grandmother for 53 cents postage. May leaves on her own, riding on a train for the first time, albeit in the mail car, seeing things she has never seen before. She is shepherded by the Leonard, the mail carrier who sorts and delivers the mail along the way. She arrives at her grandmother’s house, grateful that her parents had kept their promise. (The historical notes in this book are fascinating. This actually happened!) But there are connections to be made between Abram and May setting off on a new journey and the ways that support and care were provided along the journey’s path.
Wonder together how Abram might have explained to his neighbors where he was going when they asked why he was leaving.
Second Reading: Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
(Written for ages 1-6)
Comment: Paul, like every good Jew, knew the story of Abraham whose name was changed from Abram. He uses Abraham as an important example of how God rewards faith before any good works are done. Abraham did nothing to make God speak to him; God chose to do that. Before Abraham even left on the journey with God, Abraham believed God and it was this faith that made him righteous, or made him a person in good standing with God. This had nothing to do with keeping the law or good deeds; it was trust in God that came first. Paul didn’t think laws or rules were unimportant but trust in God came first.
In Pinkney’s stunning wordless adaptation of the Aesop’s fable, children can see trust displayed. When a huge lion captures a small mouse and decides to let the mouse go, the lion is going against the rules of the jungle. Later, when the mouse hears the lion roaring after stepping in a net set to trap the lion, the mouse goes to the lion and begins to chew through all the ropes, trusting in the care the lion has shown before. The relationship of trust shown in this story can help your congregation think about how they show their trust in God.
Gospel Reading: John 3:1-17
I‘ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi
(Written for ages 3-6)
Comment: John knows how to put a lot into one passage! Other Storypath links have focused on different aspects of this story: Nicodemus as a leader with questions about faith as he seeks Jesus in the night, unpacking the idea of being born again, or the transformation of Nicodemus through his encounter with Jesus. (Click the links above to see ways that Lectionary Links writers have connected with those ideas in this passage.) For today, we choose to focus on the extravagance of God’s love. For God so loved the world. Tentative faith, doubts and questions, nothing can deny the fact that God’s love for us in relentless and open to us in whatever state we find ourselves. As David Lose puts it, “God does not ask the world if it wishes to be the recipient of God’s love. God just goes ahead and loves, and not only loves but gives the world God’s only beloved Son over to death. The one who dies for you clearly has a significant claim on you, and John makes that clear. God’s love — surprising, all encompassing, unasked for and undeserved — is also given unconditionally. God loves us, that is, whether we like it or not.”
The unnamed narrator in today’s’ book declares their love for every kind of creature who finds themselves in any kind of situation. Although the situations are humorous, they are loved in all their journeys, and welcomed home to that love.
Another passage that can be used this Sunday is Matthew 17:1-9. We have several Links elections based on that passage which can be reviewed here.
The Revised Common Lectionary Links this week are co-written by Virginia C. Thomas and Ann Thomas Knox.