Year C: April 24, 2016
Fifth Sunday of Easter
First Reading: Acts 11:1- 18
Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: Elliot lives in America and Kailash lives in India. The two boys become pen pals through a project in Elliot’s class. In their writings they discuss their families, homes, schools, and more. Kailash is always careful to point out to Elliot that they are “same, same but different,” meaning that while there are differences, they have a lot in common, too. Peter is accosted for his decision to interact with uncircumcised men, but Peter insists that those uncircumcised are just as important to God as those circumcised. He shares with the believers his vision in which God rebukes Peter’s understanding of clean and unclean. “So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” (v. 17). The people had no further objections upon hearing Peter’s testimony, and replied: “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life” (v. 18). They are all same, same but different.
Second Reading: Revelation 21:1-6
There Is No Such Thing As Little by LeUyen Pham
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Focusing on verses 3-4, we look at the “new order of things” through the lens of God’s creation, presence, and yearnings for all of God’s children. God’s desire is to dwell among God’s people, as he did in the flesh through Jesus Christ, and still does today through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Understanding both God’s physical manifestation and God’s continued longing to dwell with all of creation helps us to view things through a different lens. In her book, Pham uses peek-through holes on each page to offer a small view of something, while turning the page offers a larger, more truthful view of the very same thing. Such is true with our world-views and God’s world-views. We see in a limited way, but God sees the bigger, better, more inclusive and more truthful view. The book begins with “Everyone says I’m little. I really don’t agree. If only they could see what I see when I look at me,” echoing God’s wish for us to see life as God sees it! A little light isn’t so little when it’s a welcoming light, and a small tree is really a generous tree. “There will be no more…for the old order has passed away…” (v.4). Our limited considerations are no more, for God’s truth reigns.
Gospel Reading: John 13:31-35
The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc
(Written for ages 4 & up)
Comment: During the Passover meal with his disciples, Jesus once again reminds his followers that he’ll soon be departing them. The words Christ uses during this exchange with his disciples are some of our most well-known and recognized: “My children, I will only be with you a little longer…Where I am going, you cannot come” (v.33) and “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (v.34-35). Lion meets Bird who is injured, takes Bird under his care, and helps Bird recover. The two become fast friends. As the seasons change and Bird heals, Bird begins to look toward the sky for his flock. When spring comes Bird departs with his flock leaving Lion behind. Lion knows Bird must leave, but sadness still remains behind. Christ hopes that his followers will finally understand that he is departing, but the words don’t take root. Similarly, Lion is sad when Bird has gone away. Lion shares love with Bird by offering shelter while Bird heals. Bird remembers the love and visits Lion when the seasons change again. Bird and Lion cannot always be together, just as Christ can’t always be physically present with his disciples, but the love between them remains and fills the void.
Thanks to this week’s Lectionary Links writer Katie Barrett Todd. Katie is Associate University Minister at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln and stated supply at the Dunbar Presbyterian Church in Dunbar, Nebraska.