YEAR B: February 1, 2015
First Reading: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Telephone by Mac Burnett
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: This passage warns that though God will raise up a true prophet, speaking God’s words and commands, there will also be false prophets. These false prophets will mislead anybody who listens to them because they speak in the name of other gods. They say things God wouldn’t say. God’s people have to be careful not to get mixed up when listening for God’s words and commands. In Telephone, several birds along a telephone wire get a message very mixed up. Peter’s mother asks the birds to pass a message down the wire to him: to come home for dinner. Along the telephone wire, the message gets increasingly garbled, mixed up by the many birds. But finally an owl figures out what is going on and unscrambles the message so that Peter receives it correctly. God’s people have to be wise, too, and not mix up messages. We have to avoid the words of false prophets, and heed the words and commands of God’s true prophets.
Second Reading: I Corinthians 8:1-13
Rupert Can Dance by Jules Feiffer
(Written for ages 3-6)
Comment: In Rupert Can Dance, Mandy’s cat, Rupert, has been watching her dance every day and at night, he steals her dancing shoes and dances. He enjoys himself until Mandy catches him dancing, and in her joy, tries to give him proper dance lessons. But Rupert doesn’t want proper dance lessons; he wants to dance in the way that makes him happy. Mandy’s lessons upset Rupert and he stops dancing. Mandy finally convinces him to dance again by asking to learn about his type of dancing! Mandy’s knowledge of dance was important, but forcing Rupert to learn her way did not show her love. In the end, she shows that she loves him by learning from him, instead of forcing him to dance the way she wanted. In the same way, the Corinthians are told that knowledge, while valuable, only puffs up, but love builds up. They are divided over issues of eating food that may have been sacrificed to idols. Some say it shouldn’t matter, if they truly believe in only one God, and others say that it bothers them. Paul tells the Corinthians to consider the other person—that although they all have knowledge, to consider how to act in love, so they can build one another up. When Mandy lets Rupert dance his way, when she asks to learn from him, she shows love, and it builds up their friendship, and they dance together. If the Corinthians choose love, they build one another up, too.
Gospel Reading: Mark 1:21-28
The Sailor Dog by Margaret Wise Brown
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: When Jesus comes to Capernaum, he goes to the synagogue and worships and teaches there. Jesus knows who he is and is confident about it—confident enough that when he teaches, it shows. The people hear his teaching and say that he teaches with authority. The unclean spirit also knows who Jesus is, and knows his authority, when Jesus commands it to come out. Jesus’ fame begins to spread and everyone knows who he is. His own authority and confidence as the Son of God spreads to the people listening, to the unclean spirits he came to cast out, and the people of the surrounding towns. He knows who he is, and everyone else does, too. In The Sailor Dog, Scuppers knows who he is: he is a sailor dog. The fact that he is a dog, that his ship gets wrecked, or that he is in unfamiliar lands doesn’t deter him—he knows who he is, and is confident about it. After the shipwreck, he repairs his vessel and returns to the sea because of who he is: a sailor dog. Jesus and Scuppers the sailor dog know who they are, and live out their identities with authority and confidence.
The Lectionary Links this week are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Sara Anne Berger.