Year B: November 4th, 2018
First Reading: Ruth 1:1-18
Before Morning by Joyce Sidman
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: In Before Morning, a little girl dislikes the rush of her family’s activities, and doesn’t want her mother to go off to work the next day. She wants her whole family together so she wishes for a snow storm to blanket the city and make all of the activity and busyness pause for just a little while, so they can all stay home together. Her wish comes true and her family stays home together, playing in the snow. In the scripture from Ruth, Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, urges Ruth to return to her original family, her original country, but Naomi has become Ruth’s family and Ruth wants her family to stay together. So she decides to journey on with Naomi and tells Naomi not to urge her to leave, because she is sticking together with her family. As people of faith, our journey is long, and we go through hard times. So what a gift it is to have family—all kinds of family—to stick with on that journey and through the most difficult times.
Second Reading: Hebrews 9:11-14
Brave Irene by William Steig
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Our Hebrews passage describes Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross which obtained eternal redemption for us. Previous sacrifices had employed animals, but Jesus sacrifices himself. He puts himself forward and doesn’t ask anyone to take his place. In Brave Irene, Irene and her mother, a dressmaker, have created a beautiful gown for the duchess to wear to a ball. But the night the gown is suppose to be delivered, Irene’s mother is sick and the weather is absolutely terrible. It seems like there is no way for the gown to be delivered. But then Irene steps up and does it herself. She carries the gown through the wind and weather so that it can get to the duchess. Irene is willing to put herself forward in order to accomplish what needs to get done. Like Irene, Jesus didn’t ask anyone else to do what he had to do, and he put himself forward to accomplish the sacrifice needed for redemption. We are disciples of someone who was willing to sacrifice for us, and to put himself forward, even though it was difficult. As we follow him, we, like Jesus and like Brave Irene, are called to put ourselves forward and do what needs to be done, even when it is difficult.
Gospel Reading: Mark 12:28-34
Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth by Jarvis
(Written for ages 2-5)
Comment: Sometimes there are greater than things than what we have decided are most important. In our Mark passage, a scribe asks Jesus what is the greatest commandment, and Jesus answers him, saying that the greatest commandments are to love God fully and to love our neighbors like we love ourselves. The scribe is impressed and says he agrees. The scribe says that while some might believe that burnt offerings and sacrifices are the most important thing, that there is something much more important than that: loving God and loving neighbor. In “Alan’s Big Scary Teeth”, Alan the alligator loves to scare his neighbors with his big scary teeth. He thinks his ability to scare with his big, pointy teeth is the most important thing. But it turns out his teeth are false, and when he loses them, he feels that he has no purpose, because that was the most important thing about him. But his neighbors show him that he could behave differently, he could be kinder to them, he could help their community, he could do lots of things other than scare them. When he gets his teeth back, he is changed, and treats his neighbors—now friends—with love. Alan found something more important than being scary with his teeth, and as a result he learned to love. There may be things that we believe are important, but the only way to know if they are the most important is if they demonstrate our love of God and love of our neighbors. Anything else is just not as important as those two things
Thanks to Sara Anne Berger, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Nachitoches, LA, for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.