First Sunday of Lent
First Reading: Deuteronomy 26:1-11
The Best Book in the World by Rilla Alexander
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: The Festival of Weeks is a ritual, a tradition, of returning to the temple to offer to God that which is native to your land, that first came from God. The practice is that the first-fruits are offered, and when they are accepted by the priest, the person making the offering recites words that remind him or her of their heritage as wanderers who were given the land by God. The Best Book in the World takes the reader on the adventure of the story. In reading, the story continues and delights the reader. As the book winds down and the reader begins to be sleepy, the book reminds the reader that the story won’t ever end…if they start at the beginning again. Best Book offers an introduction to the continuation of the story, the idea of ritual and repeated practice, and looking forward to repeating the familiar again in appropriate time. Much like the Festival of Weeks, the ritual continues and the story never ends.
Second Reading: Romans 10:8b-13
Abuelita’s Heart by Amy Cordova
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In a visit to the southwest to see Abuelita, the narrator experiences nature in new ways but mostly comes out learning that although they are not geographically close to one another, the narrator and Abuelita are always connected by love and in the heart. Abuelita offers the girl advice about following her heart and trusting the path of wonder as she goes. While the two live very different lives, they are connected to one another indefinitely. Paul’s message is one of speaking what is true in the heart bringing salvation. All are reminded that no matter their background – Jew or Gentile – they are one in the Lord, if they confess with their mouth what their heart believes. The Lord and our faith (our hearts) are the connecting threads for us all.
Gospel Reading: Luke 4:1-13
The Nonsense Show by Eric Carle
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Truth verses false truths; what is to be believed? Jesus comes face to face with his beliefs when he’s tempted in the desert by the devil. The story of the Temptation of Christ allows the reader to ask: What is true? What is impossible? What is possible? What is right? What do I/we believe? Who/what do I/we trust? Eric Carle’s newer book Nonsense Show presents silly scenarios to the reader – a duck walking under water, a horse and the rider trading heads, a leopard with tiger stripes – for the reader to decide what’s true and what’s nonsense. When presented with the absurd in the story and pictures, the reader will chuckle as they agree that what they see isn’t what’s the reader knows with certainty is the truth. The Temptation story invites us to recall what we know with certainty in faith is true of our God, just like we know with certainty that a banana will never hatch a chick.
The Lectionary Links this week are written by regular contributor and Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Katie Barrett Todd.