Year A, August 31 2014
First Reading: Exodus 3:1-15
The First Thing My Mama Told Me by Susan Marie Swanson
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: In The First Thing My Mama Told Me, Lucy tells stories about growing up and growing into her identity. All the things she remembers center around her name. Like Lucy, our identity is wrapped up in our name. We find ourselves seeking a place in the community through our names. Moses finds himself in a situation in which he is being asked to speak on behalf of God, but doesn’t know what name to use. Moses asks God “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?” (verse 13). Without a name to use in speaking of God, Moses worries that he will not be welcomed into this new community. He is an outsider, called by God to become a part of this community in order to achieve God’s purpose. It is through the name of God, and Lucy’s name, that Moses and Lucy are welcomed into the community.
Second Reading: Romans 12:9-21
Tony Baloney by Pam Munoz Ryan
(Written for ages 3-5)
Comment: This passage from Romans is a long list of dos and don’ts, which summarize ways in which we are to live in community. Living in a community is difficult work, as Paul knows, and Tony comes to find out in Tony Baloney. Tony is the second child and only boy out of four children. He gets the honor of playing with his sisters. Sometimes he finds that he can no longer “live peaceably with all,” (verse 18) and instead gets in trouble. His parents encourage him to apologize nicely. Tony wonders to his stuffed animal “I am not feeling nicely in my heart. How long does it take for nicely to creep in? Maybe never, or in a little while. Just wait for it.” This is at the heart of the Romans passage. The rules Paul lays out here deal with the ways we interact with each other. We are to do so, in Tony Baloney’s words, nicely and from our hearts.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 16: 21-28
Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion by Mo Willems
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Peter has an idea in his mind of what to expect from Jesus and his life on Earth. One of those things not on the list of expectations is suffering and being killed, but God has other plans. Sometimes we do not always know what is going to happen exactly. We can dream about the future, and create a list of expectations to the point that we have trouble accepting what is happening. In Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion ,Trixie’s parents are completely caught off guard when Trixie offers to give her beloved Knuffle Bunny to a crying baby. Trixie is only able to make this kind and unexpected decision after she accidently leaves Knuffle Bunny on the plane, and realizes she is a big enough to be without him. Trixie and her parents had been imagining a future that included Knuffle Bunny, so when Trixie turns around and gives him to a crying baby on the plane, everyone is unexpectedly surprised. When we follow Jesus, our lives can and do take unexpected turns.
We welcome back writer Elizabeth Boulware Landes, Union Presbyterian Seminary graduate and Director of Children’s Ministries at Faith Presbyterian Church, Aledo, TX. Elizabeth will be writing the Links for the next thirteen weeks.