14th Sunday after Pentecost
YEAR C: August 21st, 2016
First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10
Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats by Alicia Potter
(Written for ages 5-8)
Comment: In this passage, Jeremiah declares that he isn’t fit to speak, to be the Lord’s prophet, because he is afraid. But the Lord tells him not to be afraid—that God has always been with him, and will continue to be with him, so he can be brave to speak. The cats in Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats don’t feel brave either—they are shy and scared. But Miss Hazeltine looks after them, teaching them not to be afraid, and encouraging them to be brave. The most scared of the cats, Crumb, is very afraid, but when Miss Hazeltine falls on her way to pick up milk for the cats, Crumb leads the rest of the cats, despite his fears, to bravely rescue her. Jeremiah was brave because the Lord was with him and encouraged him, and he went and prophesied as God said. We may be afraid, and not feel brave enough to do what the Lord calls us, to, but the Lord has known us long before this moment, and will give us courage to do what we are called to do.
Second Reading: Hebrews 12:18-29
17 Things I’m Not Allowed To Do Anymore by Jenny Offill
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In the letter to the Hebrews, the writer warns about not listening to “the one who is speaking” from heaven, because others behaved that way in the past and it brought trouble upon them. They have someone worth listening to, and they ought not squander that opportunity and risk the same kind of trouble for themselves. The girl in 17 Things I’m Not Allowed To Do Anymore offers a similar warning. She tries all kinds of things: walking backward to school, doing a report on George Washington about beavers instead, stapling her brother’s hair. She is not allowed to do these things anymore, because they were bad ideas and ended poorly for her. She serves as a warning to the reader about the same kinds of behavior and about avoiding them. In Hebrews, the people have the opportunity for an unshakable kingdom and a sure mediator in Jesus Christ, but they have to heed the warnings from as they move toward that unshakable kingdom. And we, too, have the same warnings and the same opportunities to learn from them as we move toward God’s unshakable kingdom.
Gospel Reading: Luke 13:10-17
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In Library Lion, everyone loves the lion who visits the library every day except Mr. McBee. Mr. McBee thinks lions shouldn’t be allowed in the library and constantly reminds the lion of the many rules, especially ‘No Roaring in the library’. The lion follows each and every rule, but one day, the head librarian, Miss Merriweather, falls and is injured and the lion can’t get anyone’s attention so he roars for help. Mr. McBee orders him out of the library, angry at him for breaking the rules—that is, until he discovers Miss Merriweather and realizes he was only able to help her because of the lion’s roar. While rules are important, the greater rule of kindness is even more important and comes before every other rule. Jesus demonstrates this when he heals a woman in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. The leader of the synagogue is upset with him, saying he has broken a rule by healing on the Sabbath. But Jesus thinks kindness to this woman comes first and the people around him agree. A world without any rules would be chaos, but we have to remember what the purpose of any rule is, and know that, at times, it’s necessary to break them in order to be more kind than rigid. Jesus wants us to be conduits of kindness and freedom to other people above all else.