14th Sunday after Pentecost
Year C: September 15, 2019
First Reading: Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
The Day War Came by Nicola Davies
(Written for ages 6-9)
Comment: God has called Jeremiah as a prophet, sent to warn the Israelites of the trouble that is coming their way because of their disobedience to God. Jeremiah has reminded the people of God’s work in their lives and pleaded with them to repent. By the time we arrive at this point in Jeremiah’s story, he is ready to speak of God’s judgement. The picture he paints is grim – blistering winds, fierce armies, war that will render the earth a desolate wasteland. Yet even in God’s anger and judgment, God speaks of “my people” and declares that God will not destroy the Israelites completely. In a passage that declares the judgement of God upon the disobedience and waywardness of God’s people, there is still a small light of hope. In Davies’ poignant book, a child narrates the story of her life torn apart by war. The book begins with a family sitting at a table together, sharing the simple things of their lives. She describes what she was learning when ‘the war came’. “War took everything. War took everyone.” As her life continues as an immigrant seeking shelter and education, she sees that war is also in the hearts of people who dislike and mistrust people like herself. The images in this book evoke the horrors of war described in Jeremiah (but not the judgement) but it ends with a small measure of hope offered by the children in her new country who invite her into a classroom from which a teacher has turned her awy. What are signs of God’s hope that you can find when life seems very hard?
Second Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
A Letter to my Teacher by Deborah Hopkinson
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: 1st Timothy is a letter from a mentor to a young leader to give instruction about church organization and leadership. But it begins in this first chapter with testimony – a recounting of the way that grace and mercy through Christ have saved Paul. As Eric Baretto says, “These verses tell a story of conversion and of transformation, of a life renewed by the inexhaustible love and grace of God.” These verses constitute a hymn of gratitude that God’s grace and mercy claimed an unlikely disciple. Hopkinson’s book begins with a young girl reminiscing about her life as a student as a 2nd grader. Where she has gotten in trouble before for not sitting still, this teacher designs learning experiences that allow her to move. When she struggles with reading, her teacher finds ways to make books connect with her life. At the end of the book, you see the child as an adult, writing her former teacher to thank her for that year, and to tell her that she soon begins her job as a teacher herself and is going to try her best to emulate her former teacher. The student, changed by the imagination and love and grace of a special teacher, is filled with gratitude for the transformation her teacher began in her. Wonder with your listeners about the ways that they express their gratitude to God.
Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-10
Teddy’s Favorite Toy by Christian Trimmer
(Written for ages 5-8)
Comment: In Feasting on the Word, G. Penny Nixon offers four ways to unpack these very familiar parables. One of the ways is to focus on what she refers to as “the diligent search and the joyful find”. The search to invite others into the life Christ offers must “include the sweeping out of old notions of humanity and worthiness” and encompass all whom Jesus loves. And the welcoming of all into this life must be an occasion for joy for all who share it. (Feasting on the Word, Year C, Vol. 4, p. 71-73). Teddy, a boy with a very creative imagination, has many toys, but loves Bren-Da, Warrior Queen of Pacifica, the best of all. Dressed in pink and wearing a lovely necklace, Bren-da has all sorts of great fighting skills and can pull off amazing looks. One day, in the midst of a ‘particularly epic battle’, Bren-da’s leg is broken and Teddy doesn’t have time to fix it properly before he leaves for school. His mother , not recognizing Bren-da in her bandaged state, throws her out in the trash. When Teddy’s mother realizes what she has done, she springs into action, performing all sorts of fierce looking moves to get to the garbage truck and rescue Bren-da. A joy-filled playtime with Brenda, Teddy and his mother provides a happy ending for all. The mother’s diligence and hard work in finding Bren-da and bringing her home can serve as a way to think about Christ’s love for all people and the joy that accompanies the life all God’s people share together.
If you prefer to do a simple retelling of these parables, take a look at Who Counts:? 100 Sheep, 10 Coins and 2 Sons by Amy-Jill Levine and Sandy Sasso.
This week’s Lectionary Links are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Ann Thomas Knox