Year A: July 13, 2014
First Reading: Genesis 25:19-34
The Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: We encounter a classic case of sibling rivalry with the story of Esau and Jacob. Kids with siblings are likely to be able to imagine the kinds of struggles Jacob and Esau might have had with one another as they were growing up. Children would not necessarily be surprised to hear within the story that Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob, as, like The Pain and the Great One, often siblings are convinced one is loved more than another. Blume’s story, like the story of Jacob and Esau, cannot be cleaned up with a quick moral or tied together neatly with a bow. They both involve the messiness of anger and frustration that comes with being part of a family and trying to find your place within it. Consider this text an invitation to talk honestly with the children of your church about the experience of having and being a sibling.
Second Reading: Romans 8:1-11
Zora Hurston & The Chinaberry Tree by William Miller
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do… so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” When thinking about how to distill this text for young listeners, I find myself reflecting on the way God’s Spirit empowers and inspires us to see and experience life in a new way. When the law becomes an albatross around our necks, we have lost sight of why it was given to us by God. After her mother dies, Zora hears the voice of her mother in a sparrow’s song, inspiring her to never stop climbing or reaching for the dreams of a life lived fully. Wonder together with the children of your church about the way God’s Spirit is like that sparrow, inspiring and calling them to live a life more fully rooted in God.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: The Tiny Seed fits so well with this text, it almost seems as if it were written with Jesus’ parable in mind. Through Carle’s pictures, children follow the journey of seeds blowing in the wind. Many of the seeds and plants don’t survive the journey though the seasons, but the tiny seed grows big and begins the cycle of life again. The book is a bit wordy, but the Carle’s collaged pictures tell the story beautifully. As they follow the journey of the seeds, encourage the children of your church to imagine themselves as one of the seeds sown by the sower. What would it be like to suffer poor growing conditions versus being sown in good soil, to grow big and beautiful like the tiny seed?
The Lectionary Links this week are written by regular contributor Noell Rathbun-Cook.