16th Sunday after Pentecost
Year C: September 29, 2019
First Reading: Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
Grow by Cynthia Platt
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: While last week’s Old Testament reading had Jeremiah living into his grief for his people, in today’s passage, he acts in the midst of despair with hope in God’s plan for the future. Jeremiah himself is being held captive for his prophecies of judgement against Jerusalem, even as the Babylonians are moving towards the capture of Jerusalem. Still in the future, Jerusalem will fall to the Babylonians and the Israelites will be exiled from their homeland. And yet, Jeremiah buys a piece of land, acting in hope that “houses, fields, and vineyards will again be bought in this land.” It is often difficult to act in hope in the face of despair, but Jeremiah’s action shows his faith that God is interested and invested in the future of God’s people. Grow opens with a scene of an empty, lifeless vacant lot, surrounded by tall buildings and people going about their business. No one seems to notice the lot and no one crosses it. But one young girl has an idea, and she plants a seed. As her seed begins to grow, others join her in planting and cultivating. Over time, the lot is transformed into a place where the community gathers, shares food and their lives. From the greys and browns of the first pages to the riotous color and exuberant activity on the last, the fruits of the young girl’s hope are shown.
Second Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-19
What is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack
(Written for ages 5-8)
Comment: Last week, we heard words from Luke about money, and today Paul (or the writer of 1 Timothy) speaks his own words about money and wealth. From “the love of money is the root of all evil” to the admonition to find wealth in good works (vs. 18), Paul makes the case for dependence on God instead of money and for sharing what we have in order to live life abundantly. The late Patricia McKissack’s last book is a wonderful accompaniment to this text. Rev. Dennis announces in worship that a love basket will be given to the Temples, a family who has lost everything in a recent fire. James Otis and his mother are poor themselves and James Otis wonders what on earth they have of value to give a family who has nothing. While his mother makes an apron out of her best old tablecloth, James Otis considers his meager possessions and wonders what he has to give that would be of worth to Sabrina Temple, a little girl his age. On the day the love basket is presented to the Temples in worship, James Otis offers a book that he has written and illustrated for Sabrina who is so excited to have a book with her name in it to keep forever and ever. James Otis and his mother leave worship with great contentment, and find a much needed love basket on their doorstep when they return.
Gospel Reading: Luke 16:19-31
The Greedy Python by Eric Carle or The Sneetches
(Written for ages 5-8)
Comment: This story in Luke is yet one more way that Jesus tells his hearers that the way we treat our neighbors is of utmost importance to our lives. The rich man never ceases to be concerned for his welfare and the welfare of his family, and he either tries to use Lazarus for his consolation or benefit or to serve his family. This indifference towards Lazarus leads to banishment from God’s kingdom. Luke is speaking some serious words to his hearers and to us. It matters how we share our wealth with our neighbors. The greedy python sees all in front of him as existing for his pleasure and he eats everything in sight – a bug, a bird, even an elephant, even as they plead with him to stop. Even when the animals manage to escape from the python’s stomach, his need for more causes him to eat his tail – and he disappears. The python’s greed has taken him out of the world much as the rich man’s actions and attitudes towards Lazarus cut him off from all that gives life.
The Revised Common Lectionary Links this year are written by Ann Thomas Knox, Storypath administrator and Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna.