YEAR C: August 14th, 2016
First Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7
The Fire Cat by Esther Averill
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: These verses from Isaiah are disturbing. The symbolic vineyard, a sign of God’s people, was lovingly tended, but now will be torn down and devoured. But God expected justice from the people, and, instead, saw bloodshed, and so what grows in that symbolic vineyard is no good. God won’t let the terrible things keep growing, and God lets it be torn down in hopes of something better growing instead. In The Fire Cat, Pickles has very large paws, but instead of using them for good, he uses them to bully and chase other cats. Mrs. Goodkind watches over Pickles, and says he could be a good cat, if given the right chance. Mrs. Goodkind gives Pickles away because he is too bad to live with her, but she finds him a home with the fire fighters, who discover that his big paws are a big help to them, and he becomes a good cat! Pickles behaves badly and loses his home, but his loss becomes something better in its place. These verses from Isaiah rightly trouble us, but the vineyard, and the people’s behavior it symbolized were not good and needed to be uprooted for the possibility of something better. God doesn’t want us to continue in terrible ways, and will uproot that kind of growth in hopes that something better will grow.
Second Reading: Hebrews 11:29-12:2
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead
(Written for ages 2-6)
Comment: Amos McGee, sick in bed and unable to go into work, exclaims, “Hooray! My good friends are here!” when the animals he visits in the zoo arrive at his home to take care of him. They stay with him all day, tending to his needs, keeping him company, brightening his spirits. They even spend the night, and he knows that in the morning he will feel strong enough to continue going to work. In the letter to the Hebrews, readers are comforted by the knowledge that they have a great cloud of witnesses, faithful people who surround them and encourage them, so they can persevere in the “race” of faith. We, too, have friends around us who encourage us, comfort us, and build us up in faith, and memories of those who have done so in the past, too. We have a great cloud of witnesses who surround us and give us strength to persevere in faith. Whenever we are weary, we can turn to these people, to our community of faith, our great cloud of witnesses, and be encouraged.
Gospel Reading: Luke 12:49-56
Twilight Comes Twice by Ralph Fletcher
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: In Luke, Jesus issues some scary predictions about divisions and swords versus peace, but he also notes that there is a predictability and cycle to these events. He scolds the listeners for their ability to rightly look at signs on earth, the rhythm and cycle of seasons and weather, and understand them, but then fail to understand the events he discusses. For Jesus, these events, scary as they are, have a purpose and a season, a time and place, a predictable cycle. In Twilight Comes Twice, that same predictability and cycle of nature is seen. The text describes the arrival of twilight, first at dusk, and then at dawn. The signs and signals of dusk and dawn are laid out, just as we would see them in the world around us. Just like we would understand the cycles of nature, the arrival of dusk and dawn, the signals of twilight, and of changing seasons, as people of faith we make an effort to understand the signals and signs, the cycles and predictability, of Jesus Christ’s work on earth. We ought to know both kinds of signs and cycles, with equal understanding and interest.
The Lectionary Links this week are written by Sara Anne Berger, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Nachitoches, LA.