Year C: September 22, 2019
First Reading: Jeremiah 8:18-9:1
Whimsy’s Heavy Things by Julie Kraulis
(Written for ages 4-6),
Comment: Two days before these Lectionary Links were written, the United States experienced two more mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH. The outpouring of grief and hopelessness in our country over these continuing horrific acts of violence mirror Jeremiah’s own lament over the Israelites’ inability to change their direction, alter their lives and turn back to God. There is not much hope in this passage, just sheer, raw grief and a wondering if God will actually save God’s people. The sorrow and the questions are bigger than anything else Jeremiah can consider at the moment. We, too, look around our world and wonder where God is, wonder why we seem unable to turn away from the many ways we hurt and oppress each other. It is not easy to live in this sorrow, but we must acknowledge it. The book suggestion for today is a way to help listeners consider the burdens that cause such sorrow. Whimsey, a worried little girl, constantly carries around 5 large black balls that are weighing her down. She tries to get rid of them through a variety of means – putting them under the rug, hanging them on a tree – but in each scenario, the weight of the burden shows that she cannot get rid of them so easily. The illustrations are in grey and black tones with very little color, adding to the sense of sorrow that the burdens cause. If you use this book, I would suggest ending it at the point where Whimsy seems to have run out of ideas to keep her burdens from overwhelming her. The time will come for hope, but for Jeremiah and for us, the injustice and pain and devastation in our world brought about by our own actions should cause us deep sorrow.
Second Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: This passage, continuing the writer’s instructions to the young leader Timothy, has many theological underpinnings, but the one that may most resonate with younger listeners is Paul’s understanding that all people – not just Jews, but Gentiles and Roman kings and others- are part of the creation that God loves and to whom God offers life in Christ. The Good News is for everyone and a leader in the young church needs to hear and share that word! Prayers of supplication, intercession and thanksgiving are all a part of opening oneself and others to the saving love of Jesus Christ. The story of Ruby Bridges, the young African-American girl who helped integrate the public schools of New Orleans, is a powerful story illustrating Paul’s instructions to pray for all – those in power, those who are different, those who are not ‘one of us’. Every day on her way to school, Ruby goes through an angry mob, accompanied by federal marshals with guns, to go into a classroom where she is the only student. One day, her teacher sees her stop in the middle of the mob, lips moving, while the marshals try to remove her from the angry people. She tells her teacher that she has stopped each day before approaching the mob to pray for those gathered to hurt her, but on this particular day, she forgot to pray until she was in the middle of the mob. Her prayer of intercession and forgiveness for those who wanted so clearly to hate and harm her makes for very powerful reading.
Gospel Reading: Luke 16:1-13
Harold Loves His Wooly Hat by Vern Kousky
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Luke 16 contains two parables that Jesus tells related to responsible use of money and wealth. The first part of this parable will seem confusing to young listeners (as it is to adults) as the manager seems to be admired for using his master’s money to make sure he has a good place to land when he is fired! But Jesus’ words beginning in vs. 8 seem to reframe the parable to teach his disciples that “one can use wealth toward constructive ends that serve God, by releasing what one has and thereby making friends, not subordinate clients but friends – for eternity.” (Carroll, John T., and Jennifer K. Cox. Luke : A Commentary. New Testament Library. Louisville, Kentucky: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, 2012. p. 329) Wealth and money don’t exist to make us special or important, but to serve God’s Kingdom. Harold has a wooly hat that he loves and he feels very special when he wears his hat. In fact, he thinks it is what makes him special. When a crow snatches his hat off his head, he bargains with her to give it back, and finally, in anger, climbs up a tree while she is away to grab it back. When he finds it warming three baby crows, he tucks the hat around them more tightly and climbs down. The last page shows Harold offering honey to the mother crow, having now understood his specialness as sharing with his new friends. Wonder with your listeners about how we can serve God with the resources God has given us.
The Revised Common Lctionary Links are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Ann Thomas Knox.