17th Sunday in Easter
Year A: June 5, 2011
Two of today’s texts share a similarity in the role flower seeds play, providing hope for the characters. Watching my own garden sprout and grow from seeds is something that I always find to be an inspirational part of the Easter season. When all seems dark and barren, life bursts miraculously from the ground. Christ is Risen! Alleluia, Amen!
First Reading: Acts 1:6-14
A Packet of Seeds by Deborah Hopkinson (Written for Ages 5-9)
Comment: When Jesus ascends into Heaven, his disciples look up towards the heavens, and are greeted with a message from angels: “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Sometimes we are stuck in the pause of looking back to what has happened, feeling as if we are waiting. The disciples couldn’t stare up at Heaven until Jesus returned, they had to continue living out the life to which they had been called by Christ. When they move to the prarie, Annie’s mother is so heartbroken, it seems her life has been stopped due to the process of looking back. Annie has hope that she can restore joy to her mother, and seeks to plant a kitchen garden. When Momma comes out with seeds for the garden, hope is restored. A note from Aunt Janice falls from the packet: “Dear sister…don’t be sad. When you plant these seeds, keep me in your heart. And remember: I will be digging in this same sweet earth, thinking of you in your new prairie home.” The love of our community strengthens us and gives us hope until Christ comes again.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai (Written for Ages 6-11)
Comment: This selection from First Peter encourages faithfulness in the midst of suffering. It is a faithfulness that suffering will not have the final say and one day God will “restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.” It’s often hard to be hopeful in the midst of suffering, to believe that the future holds something brighter. Lee-Tai shares a story of a little girl living in a Japanese American Interment Camp during World War II. At First Mari struggles with her new reality, and does not see much hope in her new life. Over time her art teacher, family, and a new friend help her to find moments of hopefulness in the midst of her suffering. After three months of sitting fallow in the dust, Mari’s sunflowers finally bloom. “In that moment, her old life, and whatever her new life would be life after the war, didn’t feel so far away.”
Gospel Reading: John 17:1-11
Friend Jesus: Prayers for Children by Gaynell Bordes Cronin (Written for Ages 5-9)
Comment: In this passage Jesus prays that the people might know God and Jesus. He prays on their behalf, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” Remembering that God and Jesus are with us and pray for us helps children in their own developing prayer life. This scripture reminds us that God listens and Jesus cares. We can also follow Jesus’ example and pray for one another. This book of prayers is written by a Catholic Christian Educator but can be adapted for use by other denominations. In the introduction, Gaynell Bordes Cronin invites readers to pray so that we might “…become the person God is calling us to be, not all at once, but step by step.” She reminds us that God is everywhere we go, and prays that Jesus would always be our friend. The book divides into categories of prayer for self, others, the week, and special times. Each category is helpful in teaching children to make conversation with God a part of their daily routine.
This Lectionary Links post was written by regular contributor and Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Noell Rathbun.