Year C: December 6, 2015
First Reading: Malachi 3:1-4
I Got Community by Melrose Cooper
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: The revelation of Malachi points to the prophetic and preparatory as well as the personal during the season of Advent. I Got Community shows, in pictures and simple, rhyming text, the ways in which members of the child narrator’s community show their love, mutual support, and mutual caring, thus preparing the way. This book, using vernacular and a focus on racial diversity, notes the preparatory and prophetic natural natures of community. By sharing love, providing assistance, and caring for the narrator, the community members are living into the messenger role as guardians – they prepare and smooth the path for the narrator. Ideally, the works and deeds of the community as guides for the younger groups will prove to be “pleasing to the Lord” as their influence passes from generation to generation. This book shows the myriad of people who have influence in our lives, as well as the different ways those people influence us, shaping us into the people that we become. God refines us and shapes us through all of our experiences and the people in our lives. Like Malachi’s prophecy that God will refine and cleanse the Levites, making them into the people that God wants them to be, God uses the different people in our lives to shape us and make us who God wants us to be for God’s good purposes.
Second Reading: Philippians 1:3-11
It Was You, Blue Kangaroo! by Emma Chichester Clark
(Written for ages 2-6)
Comment: Lily has a stuffed animal friend named Blue Kangaroo. She does everything with Blue Kangaroo, but when she gets into trouble she also blames Blue Kangaroo for everything. Blue Kangaroo never says a word. Ultimately Lily’s mother takes Blue Kangaroo away as punishment for “his” behavior, and Lily is very upset. Lily begins to feel badly for blaming Blue Kangaroo for her behavior. The next morning, to Lily’s mother’s delight, she finds a picture at her door that reads sorry that was drawn by Blue Kangaroo. In this particular passage Paul is send his greetings of joy and thanksgiving for the church in Philippi because they are remaining faithful to the gospel in spite of the hostile nature of the context in which they live. Paul reminds the church to keep their focus on Christ and the grace that God continues to share through their words and deeds so that they will remain pure and blameless in Christ. Blue Kangaroo is a story of partnership, compassion, repentance, forgiveness and grace, all of which Paul encourages of the Philippians in his writings that they may be found pure and blameless in the day of Christ. Blue Kangaroo is blameless, but offers forgiveness and grace despite erroneous persecution.
Gospel Reading: Luke 3:1-6
The Secret Box by Barbara Lehman
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: This wordless book shares the story of an orphanage that stands the test of time. Despite the changes all around in the city over the years, the building and its purpose remain the same. The story is of a trio of boys who find a box hidden in the floor of the orphanage, which contains an old map of the city with directions pointing toward a location. The way has been prepared, and no matter the changes in and around in the world, the way remains the same. All the boys must do is follow the map to find the secret community that waits. This passage of Luke focuses on John the Baptist and his ministry: proclaiming the coming of, and preparing the way for, the Lord. The Secret Box is a picture book sharing the story of someone else preparing the way for others who would be coming after them, just as John the Baptist was preparing the way for the Son of God to come into the world.
We welcome back Katie Barrett Todd, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna and associate university chaplain at Nebraska Wesleyan University, as our Lectionary Links writer for the next four weeks.