Seventh Sunday of Easter
First Reading: Acts 16:16-34
Everyone Needs a Friend by Dubravka Kolanovic
(Written for ages 5-8)
Comment: During Paul’s time in prison, an earthquake causes the jail doors to open, which would allow the prisoners to go free. Paul and the other prisoners, however, stay in their cells much to the surprise of the jailer, who immediately realizes the miraculous work of a follower of Christ. The jailer asks Paul what he must do to earn salvation and upon hearing Paul’s answer, he takes Silas and Paul to his home, washes their wounds, feeds them, and welcomes them into his home, where his entire family is baptized. Jack lives alone, but by a chance encounter makes a new friend, Walter. Jack opens his home to Walter and they are both happy, until Jack becomes upset with Walter’s messes and sends Walter away. Jack immediately realizes his mistake and invites Walter to return home. Both Jack and the jailer are transformed through the unexpected friendship of a stranger. The strangers evoke new feelings in the hosts, which the jailer recognizes as Christ’s salvific love, and Jack recognizes as companion love. The jailer’s life is transformed through baptism and new life in Christ, while Jack’s life is transformed through accepting Walter’s differences and enjoying him in spite of them – much like God loves and enjoys us.
Second Reading: Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
Rufus Goes to School by Kim T. Griswell
(Written for ages 3-6)
Comment: Rufus Leroy Williams III loved to look at the pictures of his favorite book, but needed to learn to read. So, Rufus decided to go to school. Try as he might, he was rejected by the principal who said each time, “No pigs in school!” Rufus was persistent. He kept trying to enroll in school, and finally one day he realized that he needed to let the principal know just how much he wanted to learn in school. The principal allowed him to come to school: “Ah! That makes a difference!” he said when Rufus shared why he wanted to go to school. Rufus enrolled and fell in love with school, his classmates, and especially story time. The epilogue and benediction of Revelation show us that Christ encourages all who desire to, “Come!” Jesus offers a blessing to all who “wash their robes, so that they might have the right to…enter the city gates” (v. 14). John’s final message in his Revelation is the message that God is coming soon, and all who desire life with God are welcome and wanted. We are challenged to offer spiritual hospitality to all who thirst for life in Christ our Lord.
Gospel Reading: John 17:20-26
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
(Written for ages 6-9)
Comment: Brian is invisible: no one sees him, no one asks for his participation, and no one invites him to parties. Brian enjoys his art and spends time while others are playing games; he draws and imagines great stories. Brian extends friendship to Justin, a new boy who is picked on at lunch, and Justin in turn invites Brian to be a partner with him and Emilio for a class project. Through friends extending welcome, Brian is no longer invisible. When Jesus prays for his disciples, he very specifically asks God “that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Jesus asks God to ensure that although he would soon be departing, his disciples would not feel abandoned, alone, or isolated. Jesus hopes his disciples will always know his love, share it with others, and recognize his presence with them. When Brian reaches out to Justin, he reminds Justin that he’s not alone, and Justin in turn reminds Brian that he’s got a friend, too. Emilio, Justin, and Brian comfort each other when the class shuns the boys. Christ prays that his Spirit will be a constant reminder to his friends that they have always been loved and will always be loved, even after Jesus’ body becomes invisible to them.
The Lectionary Links this week are written by Katie Barrett Todd, Associate University Minister at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln and stated supply at the Dunbar Presbyterian Church in Dunbar, Nebraska.