31th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year A: November 2, 2014
First Reading: Joshua 3:7-17
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Unhei is starting school in a new country. She has recently moved from Korea to America and is worried about how things will go at school. On the school bus she is teased about her name, and before walking into her class she decides she will be picking an American name. She tells her new class she will pick her name in a week. Throughout this week, Unhei has experiences that shape what name she chooses. Ultimately she has to choose between her Korean name and an American name. In the end she chooses to keep her Korean name. The Israelites find themselves in a similar position. They have just crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land. For many of those who have crossed, wilderness life is all they know. I can only imagine the anxiety and worry the Israelites feel as they are beginning their new life. The scripture passage lists many different people the Israelites will encounter in their new home. They have the decision to make in each encounter. Will they stay true to who they are, or will they adapt to the culture of those they are encountering? Will they continue to be people of God? Unfortunately we don’t have the answer to these questions in our scripture reading.
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Clever Jack Takes the Cake By Candace Fleming
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Paul encourages us to live a life worthy of God. He reminds us that everything we do and say is a witness to God. A life worthy of God is a life marked with creativity, goodness, and commitment. Jack possesses all three of these traits in Clever Jack Takes the Cake. Jack receives an invitation to a birthday party for the princess, but his family does not have the money to buy her a gift. Jack trades and barters to get the ingredients he needs to bake a cake. Along the way he encounters situations which leave him at the foot of the princess with no gift. Jack could have turned around when he realized he would have no gift, but he chose to continue to the party. His story turned out to be the best gift the princess received.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 23:1-12
The Giver by Lois Lowry
(Written for ages 12-17)
Comment: In this passage from Matthew, Jesus is encouraging his followers to do things differently than the leaders of the community. Jesus is challenging the status quo. Jesus acknowledges the value and importance of doing what the Pharisees and scribes are teaching, but still questions the way in which they practice what they preach. It is tough to learn to balance respecting and challenging leaders. In The Giver, Lois Lowry brings to light the need to challenge the ways things are. As Jonas receives memories of pain, sorrow, joy, and love from the Giver, he finds himself asking ‘why’ more often. With his new knowledge, Jonas feels he must act and an opportunity arises for him to challenge the secrecy of his position in the community. Jonas is able to leave the community, which imparts all the memories he has onto everyone in the community.
The Lectionary Links this week are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Elizabeth Boulware Landes.