Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Year B: February 5, 2012
First Reading: Isaiah 40:21-31
Jasper’s Beanstalk by Nick Butterworth (Ages 3-6)
Comment: “Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength…” Sometimes waiting feels like a hopeless task. The patience required to wait can overwhelm adults and children alike. Isaiah tells us that God will strengthen us when we are wearied by our waiting. Jasper grows weary as he waits for his beanstalk to grow. In his frustration he throws the bean out the window. After time, Jasper’s hope is renewed when he finds a beanstalk right outside his window. In Jasper’s Beanstalk and the text from Isaiah, readers are given the opportunity to discover the worth in waiting.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold (Ages 5-9)
Comment: “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.” It is not out of deception that Paul takes on different roles, but a desire to make the gospel accessible to many. He is willing to take on whatever form is necessary to aid in the salvation of others. Harriet Tubman risked a return to slavery every time she traveled south to lead more people to freedom. In Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky, Cassie relives the experience of a slave traveling the underground railroad and sees the varied forms it takes. “Sometimes the train is a farmer’s wagon. Sometimes it is a hearse covered with flowers–inside, a live slave hides in a coffin.” Each part of the railroad has the same purpose: to lead as many people as possible to freedom.
Gospel Reading: Mark 1:29-39
The Conjure Woman by William Miller (Ages 4-8)
Comment: “He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her…” In his commentary, P.C. Ennis emphasizes the power of touch in this text and throughout scripture. “Love not expressed, love not felt, is difficult to trust. Theologically speaking that is the reason for the incarnation. God knew the human need for nearness.” (Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 1, p336) The conjure woman also understands the need for nearness. She cradles a very sick Toby in her arms and they magically journey to Africa where a circle of people reach out to heal him. “Toby looked around the circle, saw himself reflected in the eyes of all the people. He felt strong again, strong enough to get up from his bed, touch the faces of the ones who healed him.” In reading The Conjure Woman and the stories of healing in Jesus’ ministry, we come to know, if it has not already been felt it in our own lives, the important role touch plays in the healing process.
This Lectionary Links post was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Rachel Mastin and regular contributor Noell Rathbun.