Year A: January 12, 2014
First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-9
The Little Duck by Judy Dunn
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Stephanie A. Paulsell writes, “True leadership protects what is weak until it is strong enough to stand”, and “this is the kind of leadership we should expect from one called by God” (Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 1, pg. 218). Isaiah’s Servant Song equates who the servant is with what the servant does, and in the Servant’s actions and person, we see a new kind of leader—one who certainly performs mighty acts of freedom and illumination, but who also protects even bruised reeds and dimly burning wicks, until they grow strong once again. In The Little Duck, we see the same protection exuded by a boy who cares for an abandoned duckling egg discovered on the family’s farm. He helps hatch the egg, raises the little duckling, protects and cares for him, until the duck is old enough to go out into the world on its own. The boy loves and cares for the duckling when he is most vulnerable, and protects him until he is strong once again. We see this same care and love in the Servant sent by God, who protects us and has compassion on us, even at our weakest and most vulnerable.
Second Reading: Acts 10:34-43
You’re All My Favorites by Sam Bratney
(Written for ages 2-5)
Comment: Peter boldly proclaims in his sermon: “God shows no partiality”. In the new and rapidly growing church that Peter was leading, there were many questions about who was “in” and who was “out”. Peter’s declaration of God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ, and the church’s imperative to believe in him, and preach about him, is couched in the reality that this call is not limited by a human concept of “ins” and “outs”—because God shows no partiality. In Sam Bratney’s book You’re All My Favorites, three little bear siblings wonder which of them is the most favored by their mother and father, and worry that, for various reasons, they may not be as loved as the other two. Mother and Father reassure them that there is nothing to worry about, declaring: “you’re all my favorites”. In the same way, Peter’s sermon reminds us of God’s reassurance to us—God shows no partiality, and God’s love and forgiveness are big enough for all!
Third Reading: Matthew 3:13-17
There by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: In There, a young girl looks ahead at the path in front of her and ponders what the future will bring. She wonders what she will encounter out “there”–dragons and storms, cities and rainbows, and whether she will change and learn new things. But for now, she is at the beginning of her journey, still wondering what lies out “There”. Similarly, as Rodger Nishioka writes in our gospel text, Jesus is at the beginning of his journey, the “baptism of Jesus is the beginning of his ministry” (Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 1, pg. 238). The rush of waters around him, and the Spirit’s power, and God’s resounding voice confirm him in this journey of ministry. His baptism is the beginning of all which lies ahead of him. And our own baptisms echo that—whether as infants or adults, they are the beginning of a continuing journey, and we, too, wonder, like the little girl: what lies out “There”. And as we emerge from the waters, we follow in our Savior’s footsteps, continuing on, as God’s beloved, in our journeys of faith.
The Lectionary Links this week are written by Sara Anne Berger, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna and pastor of the Whitmire Presbyterian Church, Whitmire, SC.