18th Sunday after Pentecost
Year C: October 13, 2019
First Reading: Jeremiah 29: 1, 4-7
One Green Apple by Eve Bunting
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: I moved when I was a junior in high school and I’m sure I spent the first two months in my new home mourning what I had lost, comparing my new life to my old life and finding it utterly lacking. The passages we’ve been reading this fall are full of sorrow for all that the Israelites have lost through their own disobedience and faithlessness, but that sorrow is real. So Jeremiah’s instruction to the elders in Jerusalem to settle down and truly become a part of the city – not just fully integrate into the community but seek the welfare of their captors – must not have been what the Israelites wanted to hear. Farah, a young girl from a country (which is not named) that is at odds with the United States , goes to an apple orchard with her new school class. As she experiences the field trip, it triggers memories of all that she has left behind and misses. But her father has told her that she must make this new place her home and the story ends with a seed of hope for Farah’s future as she offers her help to classmates who are making apple cider and speaks her first ‘outside-myself word’ in her new language. For the Israelites in Babylon and for Farah, their future is tied up with the people and places in which they find themselves.
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 2:8-15
Words by Heart by Ouida Sebestyen
(Written for ages 12 and up)
Comment: Lena, a young black girl who adores her father and wants to make him proud of her, wins the Bible verse memory contest at the church in the town where she lives. Her family is the only African-American family in this small Texas town in 1912, and both her father’s work ethic and her own pride in her knowledge, soon begin to create jealousy and tension. Her father is killed trying to help a racist young man who has been both Lena’s and the famiy’s tormentor and Lena is set on vengeance. But her father’s dying words to her remind her that the Bible verses she can say so easily are words that are meant to be lived, not just spoken. The writer of 2 Timothy reminds Timothy of the hardships that can and will come from following Christ, but that words of truth are to be lived and proclaimed to help build up God’s kingdom.
Gospel Reading: Luke 17:11-19
The Thank You Book by Mary Lyn Ray
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: Writer Anne Lamott has written a book that shares what she believes are the three most essential prayers in a life of faith: help, wow and thanks. (Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, 2012) My mother always said that all children need to know three phrases – please, I’m sorry and thank you. Obviously, the ability to be able to express gratitude is an important human activity and the story in Luke today confirms that gratitude is an essential response to Jesus and the life Christ gives. When Jesus heals 10 people with skin disease, only one – the Samaritan who is most likely to be an outcast in his culture – comes back to express his joy and gratitude to Jesus. So while this story says something about seeing and participating in life with those who are seen as outcasts in our communities, it also says something about Jesus seeing us as well – in all our brokenness – and the gratitude that should be our only response to God’s gifts of grace and mercy to all. The Thank You Book offers images of a very diverse group of people going through their days recognizing gifts of place, events, the earth, and people and offering thanks for all of these things. It is short enough to be read aloud and would be a good way to initiate discussion about gratitude at home.
The Revised Common Lectionary Links this year are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Ann Thomas Knox.