Year A: February 23, 2014
First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2,9-18
Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: This passage from Leviticus begins with the call to “be holy” because God is holy, and ends with the call to “love your neighbor as yourself”. The intervening verses give concrete examples of both holiness and loving neighbor, showing how the two ideas intertwine in daily life. As Kimberly L. Clayton writes, “Our behavior toward others witnesses…to the very character and nature of the God we worship and serve” (Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 1, pg. 363). The ways we show love to one another also demonstrate our holy relationship with God to one another. In Chickens to the Rescue, the chickens on the Greenstalk farm always come to the rescue–helping retrieve a watch dropped down the well, finding lost sheep, returning the farmer’s truck, and more. The chickens’ everyday helpful activities around the farm show how much they care for the residents of the farm, and so, too, our everyday actions of loving our neighbor also show our relationship with God.
Second Reading: I Corinthians 3:10-11,16-23
Building Our House by Jonathan Bean
(Written for ages 3-6)
Comment: Paul compares the Corinthians to a building, saying, “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.” He then tells the Corinthians that they are not just any building; they are God’s holy temple. The work they do together as a congregation is important because that work is building up the Church and showing Christ to the world. “Paul is urging that each person involved in creation, running, or sustaining a congregation be intentional with the process of being church” (Kate Foster Connors, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 1, pg. 376). In the same way, the family in Building Our House is intentional with the physical building of their house. Over time, they pour concrete, gather wood, saw and hammer, raise the frame, and little by little, build their house. They work together, and they work intentionally to make a wonderful home, and the results of their hard work are shown in the family sitting together inside the house they built. Paul wants the Corinthians to think of their life as the church in the same way: little by little, slowly and intentionally, building a temple where God’s Holy Spirit dwells among them.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:38-48
Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In Jesus’ teaching, he offers specific examples of how to love our enemies. His instructions on not resisting evildoers, turning the other cheek, giving up coat and cloak, walking the second mile, and giving to everyone, come down to the idea that “God’s community is filled with people who think of others first” (Barbara J. Essex, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 1, pg. 382). Jesus’ teaching tells us how to be God’s people, and as God’s people we think of others—even when those “others” are challenging to us. In Those Darn Squirrels, Mr. Fookwire loves the birds outside his window, and builds them bird feeders, but then the squirrels come and eat from them as well! He is frustrated with the squirrels, and makes sure they know it. The squirrels continue stealing food and Mr. Fookwire continues to be annoyed, until one day the squirrels notice Mr. Fookwire looking sad. The birds have flown away for the winter, and he misses them. So the squirrels, even though they have annoyed him, and he has tried to drive them away, decide to be kind to Mr. Fookwire: they dress up as birds, and elicit a smile from Mr. Fookwire! While the squirrels may be at odds with Mr. Fookwire, they think about his feelings, and do something kind for him. In the same way, Jesus teaches us to think of others, even those with whom we might be at odds.
This Lectionary Links post was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Sara Anne Berger. Sara Anne, pastor of the Whitmire Presbyterian Church in Whitmire, SC, has written for us for the last thirteen weeks and we are grateful for her gifts that have supported the ministries of teaching and preaching in the church.