20th Sunday after Pentecost
Year C: October 27, 2019
First Reading: Joel 2:23-32
Big Rain Coming by Katrina Germein
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: If you have lived in an area suffering a drought, the first verses in our passage today would have brought blessed relief. Joel mentions rain not once, but three times – abundant, life giving rain. This is only the first image of abundance that Joel says is coming. God’s restoration is on its way, not yet here, but it will be wonderful in its abundance when it arrives. After years of a plague of locusts, this imagery of rain, and grain and vats of wine must sounds like very good news to the people hearing Joel’s prophecy! Big Rain Coming is set during the dry season in the outback of Australia. Simple texts and vivid illustrations show both the difficulty of waiting (the ‘not yet’), but also the exuberant joy of the gift of rain when it comes. This book is out of print, but check your local library, interlibrary loan or one of many copies available through 3rd party booksellers because it’s a lovely book.
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Thermes
(Written for ages 7 – 10)
Comment: The writer in this passage is offering some final words at the end of his life. It has been a life filled with challenges, difficulties, and even now, will end in a prison cell, but it has been a faithful life. Paul’s confidence in his own work as a disciple rests in the fact that he is following God’s call. It is God’s call to the work of God’s kingdom that is worth all that Paul can give it. Paul has run his race faithfully, and urges the same for Timothy. This story of perseverance, of stumbling blocks along the way and finishing a race is captured in the story of Emma Gatewood. Gatewood was a 67 year old grandmother when she became the first woman to hike the 2,190 mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. When she began, she had very little in the way of food or supplies that most people think would have been necessary for such a hike. By the end, despite many difficulties, she found help and support through various people along the way who offered her a place to rest, food, and friendship. Although Emma’s work was not the work in which Paul had been engaged, hers is also a story of faithfulness and perseverance in the midst of challenges and difficulties.
Gospel Reading: Luke 18:9-14
Once a Mouse by Marcia Brown
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: There are two prayers in this story that Jesus tells his disciples. In the first prayer, a religious leader highlights his faithful acts of tithing and fasting while at the same time speaking to God about the leader’s superiority over those who do not practice their religion in the same way that he does. Who among us hasn’t occasionally felt our religious practices were superior to others? But the second prayer, offered by the tax collector, focuses on his need of God’s mercy in the face of all the ways the tax collector fails to follow God. The tax collector doesn’t find his worth in his religious practices or good deeds, but instead, comes to God knowing that God is loving and forgiving. At the heart of our own relationship with God is this sure and certain knowledge that God loves us and offers us grace and mercy even when we fail to be who God calls us to be. A mouse about to be eaten by a bird is rescued by a hermit. As more and more animals come to do harm to the mouse, the hermit turns the mouse into successively larger animals who can hold their own against those that would harm the (former) mouse, until the mouse is finally turned into a proud and beautiful lion. At this point, the lion forgets that he was once a mouse and that who he is now is dependent on the gifts the hermit used to keep him safe and protected. The lion’s pride in himself and his forgetfulness about who is responsible for helping him become a lion cause his downfall.
The Year C Revised Common Lectionary Links are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Ann Thomas Knox.