Year c: April 21, 2013
First Reading: Acts 9:36-43
Saving Strawberry Farm by Deborah Hopkinson
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: In his commentary on this text, Stephen D. Jones focuses on the healing power of community, a notion that lies counter to our cultural values of rugged individualism and pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps. Jones says that a time of catastrophe call for a community to be vulnerable, like the community at Joppa, who “stood together, using all the tools and spiritual resources available to them–weeping together, hoping together, and celebrating together.” (Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 2, pp 429 & 431) Saving Strawberry Farm is the story of a community coming together during the Depression to help a neighbor keep her farm. The community hoped and worked together, using what little they had, to make a big difference in a beloved neighbor’s life. This week, invite your congregation to share and reflect on stories of healing communities.
Second Reading: Revelation 7:9-17
Mama by Jeanette Winter
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal… They will hunger no more, and thirst no more… God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” This text emboldens us to proclaim that while suffering is very real in our world, it will not have the final word in our lives. Our Easter hope clings to the vision of God’s Kingdom, a vision we are called to live into even in the midst of the not-yet. For children, focus on what it looks like for a life to be set right after a great ordeal. The baby hippo in Mama experiences a great ordeal as a tsunami tears him away from his mother and washes him out to sea. His tears are dried, his belly filled, and his heart warmed when he finally finds an unexpected home.
Gospel Reading: John 10:22-30
Toby, What Are You? by William Steig
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Sometimes we want simple answers to our questions, particularly when they concern identity. Jesus answers that his words and his work point to his identity. Having been given these clues, it’ requires belief on the part of his questioners to recognize that he and the Father are one. The language of this text will likely not make sense to children, but they will connect to the theme of identity. Toby is a boy who takes on many identities, while challenging his parents to guess who or what he is. His story is a great way to explore how we use clues to figure out more about one another, both in our pretending and in our reality.
The Lectionary Links this week were written by regular contributor Noell Rathbun-Cook.