Year A: September 17, 2017
First Reading: Exodus 14:19-31
Dark Night by Dorothee de Monfreid
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: In Exodus, the Israelites have finally escaped Egypt only to be chased down, eventually hemmed in between the sea and soldiers. It’s a terrifying situation. But all night long, God is working—a pillar of cloud defending them, and a wind blowing to divide the sea. Eventually, they are able to escape the scary situation via an unexpected route, the new path carved right through the middle of the sea. In Dark Night, Felix finds himself in a scary situation. Awake in the dark night, he encounters terrifying creatures: wolves, and tigers, and crocodiles. He is afraid. But then a rabbit comes along, and shows him an unexpected way out, and helps him scare away the terrifying creatures. We may find ourselves in scary situations, too. But we can trust the promise of Scripture, that God is working even in scary situations, and will provide a way out for us.
Second Reading: Romans 14:1-12
The Grumpy Pets by Kristine A. Lombardi
(Written for ages 4-6)
Comment: The apostle Paul describes how people, even within the community of faith, can be and behave differently, but all with conviction. He says those differences are not to be sources of division, but that they should all be convinced in their own mind, and give thanks to God even with their differences. In The Grumpy Pets, Billy is a grumpy little boy. His mother is happy and cheerful, and worried about him, and takes him to the animal shelter, thinking he will find a happy pet to make him happy. Billy grows even more grumpy looking at all the happy pets, until he comes to the back of the shelter where he finds the grumpy pets—who are just like him. The grumpy pets are the first pets to draw Billy’s attention, and bring a slight smile to his face. His mother is glad he has found a pet just like him. Within our communities of faith, and churches, we will meet people who make different choices than we do, are different kinds of people than we are. And we will frustrate and tire ourselves trying to make them exactly like us, wishing they were different. Instead, we can reserve our judgment, be convinced in our own mind about our own choices and lives, and know that we all belong to Jesus Christ.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
Horrible Bear by Ame Dyckman
(Written for ages 3-6)
Comment: After outlining the frequent need to forgive, Jesus tells the disciples a parable about forgiveness. A man owes an enormous amount to a king, but the king generously forgives the debt. But then when the man runs into another servant who owes him a small amount, he refuses to forgive that debt. The man who was forgiven, but would not forgive, doesn’t seem to recognize his own flaws, nor appreciate the gift he’s been given, the mercy he has been shown. He doesn’t seem to recognize that he, and the other servant who owes him, are just the same. In Horrible Bear, a little girl’s kite gets loose and flies into a bear’s cave, where he accidentally rolls over and crushes it in his sleep. The little girl, in anger, yells at him, calling him “Horrible Bear!”, and then returns home. The bear, in turn, is angered, and deeply hurt by her words, and thinks he should just be horrible, since that it what she believes he is. But when the little girl gets home, she accidentally damages one of her stuffed animals, and realizes that accidents and mistakes happen, and she needs to forgive the bear. When he arrives, preparing to be angry, she apologizes, and they instead end up friends. Part of being able to forgive is to recognize our own faults and how much we have been forgiven. That way, we realize that we are no better than someone else, and have received the same kind of forgiveness and mercy that we need to show.
Thanks to Sara Anne Berger, minister at First Presbyterian Church, Nachitoches, LA, for writing the Lectionary Links this week.