October 1st, 2017
First Reading: Exodus 17:1-7
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: In Exodus, the Israelites worry because they are in the wilderness, which doesn’t look like much, and they don’t have any water. They complain to Moses who brings their complaints to God. But God knows there is more than meets the eye. In what looks like an ordinary rock, God shows Moses that there is water and gives him the power to release what was always there. In The Gardener, the Depression has taken a toll on Lydia Grace Finch’s family, and her parents have to send her to live with her dour Uncle Jim so she can have a better life, and help him. Uncle Jim has many worries of his own and never smiles. Lydia Grace grows flowers from the seeds she carries with her, and delights the neighborhood with them, except for Uncle Jim. But she also works on a secret roof-top garden, overflowing with beautiful flowers and plants. When Uncle Jim finally sees the garden, he is pleased. Uncle Jim didn’t know it was there, but Lydia Grace was working on the garden the whole time, and when he saw it, it refreshed his spirit. As people of faith, we can trust that even when we are troubled, and it seems like there is nothing there to sustain us, God has something more for us, even where we’d least expect it!
Second Reading: Philippians 2:1-13
We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In We Found a Hat, two turtles have discovered a hat and they both want it. After thinking over what to do, since there are two of them and only one hat, they decide that they will both leave the hat and neither of them will claim it. While they both still feel a tug toward the hat, even dreaming about it, both give up having the hat they found so they can remain friends. In Philippians, Paul urges the people of Philippi to be of one mind and not to do anything out of selfish ambition. He reminds them to be like Jesus, who, though he could have claimed everything, gave it all up to humble himself. We are not disciples on our own. We are disciples who are part of the body of Christ, and that means we have to live out our faith with other people. Sometimes that is going to throw us into conflict, or raise up feelings of selfish ambition in us. But our call is, like the turtles, to let go, like Jesus, to humble ourselves, so we can be of one mind and cultivate our connections with each other.
Elizabeti’s School by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
(Written for ages 5-7)
Comment: Jesus’ parable is about two sons: one who makes a promise that he will go help in the fields but then never does; and another who at first is reluctanta nd refuses, but then goes. Jesus says that the second way, the one who was reluctant, but then did actually go, that is what God wills. In Elizabeti’s School, Elizabeti has the opportunity to go to school, but it will mean being away from her family in a new and unfamiliar place. She goes to school, but then is overwhelmed, homesick, and afraid, and comes back home. She says she will not go back. But then when she starts to describe her time at school to her family, she realizes how much she already learned and remembers what she actually enjoyed. Ultimately, she returns to school. Elizabeti was reluctant to return, but in the end she realized what a benefit and opportunity it was, and she went back. Jesus says that God’s will allows for us to be afraid, even reluctant. The point is for us to ultimately go and follow.
Thanks to Sara Anne Berger, minister at First Presbyterian Church, Nachitoches, LA, for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links for the past eleven weeks!