Year C: April 14, 2019
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9a
Mae’s First Day of School by Kate Berube
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: In reference to this Holy Week text, one commentator notes that Second Isaiah is speaking to a people whose faith was on life support, and the servant is a teacher who will help the community to make sense of what’s happening currently. We recognize that suffering means not shying away from fears, but marching head-on into our fears, and that when we set our face, we are making up our minds to be courageous. Mae is a kindergartener who is not going to school for her first day of school. She has made up her mind, despite what her parents have told her to do. When she arrives at school and her mom speaks to another parent, Mae escapes and climbs a tree. Not long after settling in, Rosie also climbs the tree because she’s not going to school, either. Finally, when the two have decided they’d live in the tree and eat their lunchbox cookies, Ms. Pearl joins them. These three hideaways discuss their fears and anxieties over the first day of school, but ultimately decide that they can face their worries together. Ms. Pearl is to Mae and Rosie that teacher who helps the children make sense of their fears by joining them and sharing her “fears,” too.
Second Reading: Philippians 2:5-11
There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe by Jane Cabrera
(Written for ages 2-5)
Comment: For a fresh interpretation of this very well known scripture, I asked my seven and six year-old children to help me understand what Paul is saying here to the church at Philippi. During our exegesis, we parsed that “Jesus’ name is so important that we need to bow when we hear it,” and that everyone needs to “think like Jesus does.” My favorite interpretation, however, was my son’s understanding of confession when he explained that verse 11 means “tell that Jesus’ love is for everyone, and hope, and peace, too.” When looking at this text through a lens of new creation, as we often do during Holy Week, we see that all of creation should bow and confess the name of Jesus Christ. Additionally, we need to realize that God’s love, hope, and peace in Jesus Christ extend to everyone and everything in heaven and on earth and under the earth. In Cabrera’s new spin on the classic rhyming story, the Old Woman not only exudes love and care for all of her children, but the entire family cares for the earth, too. When something is broken they fix it rather than throwing it away, when they are hungry she fixes them garden-fresh stew, and when the car breaks down they find alternative modes of transportation. The old woman and her family seem to be of the same mind as Jesus as they care for one another and all of creation.
Gospel Reading: Luke 22:14-23:56
The Bagel King by Andrew Larsen
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: I love the idea of Jesus being eager to eat this meal with his disciples before his crucifixion. The expediency of his language choice reminds us that there is something important about to happen, but also that Jesus has a deep love for those closest to him. He needs and desires this time with them. Every week Eli gets to eat bagels from Merv’s Bakery that his Zaida brings, no matter the weather. He looks forward to this special time each Sunday. To Eli, eating bagels with Zaida was the best part of his Sunday. After a fall, Zaida misses a week and Eli rushes to check on him, however they miss a week without the bagels. It’s during his visit to Zaida that Eli realizes that Zaida also usually got bagels for his other neighbors, as they come to visit the injured man. Eli takes care of Zaida during his recovery, but decides that another Sunday cannot pass without the bagels, so he makes a list. Early on Sunday morning Eli goes to Merv’s Bakery to get the items on the list. When Eli delivers the bagels the group happily gathers around to eat their beloved Sunday meal. Out of love for one another, and a desire to enjoy their favorite foods together, Eli carries on the tradition of Sunday bagels when Zaida is out of commission.
If you want to focus on the Luke 23:1-49 text that begins with Jesus before Pontius Pilate, you could use The Story of Easter. This colorul Bible story book is a wonderful way to re-tell the story of Holy Week in Luke and might even be a good way to share the gospel text with the entire congregation this particular Sunday. The book includes Faith Connections notes for adults and questions for reflection, as well as a prayer for everyone to say together.
Thanks to Katie Barrett Todd, director of UKirk , Presbyterian pastor and Executive Director of UKIRK Greensboro, NC, for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links these past 8 weeks.