13th Sunday After Pentecost
Year A: September 3, 2017
First Reading: Exodus 3:1-15
Hank Finds An Egg by Rebecca Dudley
(Written for ages 3-6)
Comment: Moses, watching over his father-in-law’s flocks out in the fields, comes upon a burning bush. From the burning bush, God’s voice speaks and gives Moses a mission to fulfill, and people to take care of, with God’s help. As the title of this book suggests, Hank the bear is out in the forest when he finds an egg on the ground. Despite the book having no words, the images show us Hank’s experience: he discovers the egg out in the woods and knows it doesn’t belong there on the ground, so he has to return it to where it came from. Eventually, he finds the nest and the mother bird who is missing the egg and is able to return it to her. The egg hatches into three little baby birds who are now taken care of. Hank and Moses both were given a bigger purpose and mission from an unexpected encounter. God is still speaking today, maybe in ways we wouldn’t expect and will only suddenly encounter. And that message will not be only about us, but will provide a bigger mission and purpose for us to fulfill as believers.
Second Reading: Romans 12:9-21
How Kind by Mary Murphy
(Written for ages 2-5)
Comment: This passage from Romans has so many different commands that you could take each one and have a full message from the individual commands. One of the commands is to “Outdo one another in showing honor”. The Roman congregation is urged, in their relationships with each other, not to best each other, to beat each other, to try and win in the usual ways, but in a demonstration of humility, respect, honor. In How Kind, a series of animals respond to each other’s kindnesses with more kindness. In fact, their kindness spreads so far that it comes full circle, and the hen who originally showed kindness at the beginning of the story is shown kindness at the end by all the animals who had experienced kindness throughout the story. There are many ways we can choose to behave toward other people—especially our enemies. But as people of faith, we ought to follow the commands urged in Romans and shown by the animals in the story and show kindness. We can outdo one another in how we show honor to each other.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:21-28
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julie Rawlinson
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Fletcher the fox worries as he watches his most favorite tree change. The leaves on it are changing colors, then turning brown and falling away. Fletcher desperately tries to make one final leaf hang on to the tree, but it changes and falls off as well, leaving the tree brown and dead looking. Fletcher is upset. Fletcher’s mother reassures him that all of this is natural, it is just what trees do, but all the same Fletcher is worried and alarmed. Eventually he sees the truth in what his mother says, and discovers that in the new season, the tree is still beautiful, covered in ice and snow. Like Fletcher, Peter, in our gospel passage, is alarmed by what Jesus is saying about his death and is so adamant that it not happen that Jesus has to harshly rebuke him and tells him he has his mind set on the wrong things. Peter holding on, while it seemed right, was not the right thing because Jesus knew what struggles, seasons, and changes he had to go through. Like Peter, Fletcher the fox also was holding on, even though it wasn’t right, and the tree needed to go through the seasons of change. These harsh words from Jesus are hard to hear, but sometimes we are holding on tightly, desperately, and fearfully to what was, even when it isn’t right, and we need to let things develop and change and go forward. This is especially true in a life of faith, and if we would follow our Savior, we have to follow him even into the difficult things that he went through, so we can be changed in him.
Thanks to Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Sara Anne Berger for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.