Comment: In hearing today’s text, a number of adults and children may ask what a plumb line is and how it is used. This simple tool used in construction projects would tell a builder whether or not their walls were vertical, implying a secure foundation. Willis Jenkins points out that God’s use of a plumb line in the text from Amos “illustrates a fatal flaw in the community’s structure… [and] implies the unavoidability of Israel’s death, for faulty construction must be torn down.” (Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 3, p 220) In abandoning and ceasing to care for God’s ways, the community’s foundation has become cracked and unstable. House Held Up By Trees tells the story of once sturdy home that begins to crack and break after it is no longer cared for and left abandoned. Using this text and story, wonder together with your congregation about the things that make a community’s foundations faulty or strong.
Second Reading: Colossians 1:1-14
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
(Written for ages 12+)
Comment: Through their relationship with Epaphras, Paul and Timothy have been made aware that the Colossians share their love and faith for Christ. This guides them to see the Colossians as brothers and sisters, to pray for them, and to wish them lives of endurance and strength as they seek to live out their faith. There are times when we feel connected to communities or people we have never met, but know only through the witness of a shared friend or loved one. These connections often drive our prayers and our actions. In Part Four of The Book Thief, Hans chooses to protect Max because Max’s father saved his own life in World War I. Though Hans does not know Max personally, he is tied to him through the relationship he had with Max’s father. This text and story remind us that we are bound to people far beyond the reach of our local communities. Who are the beloved brothers and sisters in Christ that your community prays and cares for despite the fact that they have never actually entered the doors of your church?
Gospel Reading: Luke 10:25-37
The Cat in the Rhinestone Suit by John Carter Cash
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: “And who is my neighbor?” This question posed by the lawyer is one that many of us have pondered in our Christian journey. Through Jesus’ parable, we learn that sometimes our neighbors are the people we least expect. John Carter Cash has created a story parallel to Jesus’ parable with The Cat in the Rhinestone Suit. When Cat and his friends find themselves in a perilous situation a number of people pass them by. Finally they are saved by Cat’s enemy, the snake Del Moore. In this moment, their relationship changes. As the story ends, Cash answers the question of what it is to be a neighbor: “Greatest pals after all, they are seldom apart. To be a fine friend indeed is to lend to a friend in need. Let your good foot take the lead. Always give from the heart.”
The Lectionary Links this week were written by regular contributor Noell Rathbun-Cook.