Year A: September 14, 2014
First Reading: Exodus 14:19-31
The Longest Night: A Passover Story by Laurel Snyder
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Terence Freitheim describes the effect of the events at the sea as “an act of creation”1. The creation process typically brings with it moments of chaos. And this is no different for the events at and leading up to where we find ourselves in the Exodus story. Yet, it is through this chaos that God is able to free Israel from her current bondage. Freitheim writes, “Chaos, in all of its creational-historical manifestations, has been overcome. But Israel walked through the sea on dry land and was safely standing on the opposite shore. God is the victor. Israel is free. The created order is once again established.”2 It is this chaos that is felt throughout The Longest Night: A Passover Story. As the young unnamed Hebrew girl tells of each plague, and the moments before and after the sea, the chaos builds. It is hard as a reader to not be pulled into the feelings of chaos, with the poetic language and vivid illustrations. The balance of life is restored for this young girl as she is now able to run, play, and participate in the created order.
One thing to note about the telling of the events in The Longest Night: A Passover Story is that Snyder leaves out any mentions of the Egyptians at the sea. I think this is helpful in telling the story to young children especially, yet, when used along side of the scripture, older children might pick up on this detail. This omission may or may not lead to more questions about the Egyptians’ fate in the sea.
1. Freitheim, Terence. Exodus. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. ed. James Mays, et all. (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1991) 159
2. Ibid, 160
Second Reading: Romans 14:1-12
A Child Is a Child by Brigitte Weninger
(Written for ages 2-6)
Comment: Mama Frog and Daddy Frog have disappeared and left two baby frogs all alone. Mrs. Blackbird, Mr. Mole and Mr. Hedgehog all wish they could help, but they are unable to see past the many differences the frogs have with them. When Mama Mouse comes along with her five children, she doesn’t even skip a beat and says we will take them. Mama Mouse doesn’t see the differences between her and the frogs; she sees children and says to the others “It’s simple. A child is a child. All children need a place to live and play, good food to eat and someone who loves them!” With some creativity, Mama Mouse is able to provide everything the little frogs need. In our passage from Romans, Paul is telling the Christians in Rome to stop looking at the differences among themselves. They should be seeing the similarities they share. Paul points out that they all belong to Christ, and each person is striving to live a life in honor of Christ. Since this is the case, we should not be looking at the differences we have, but rather making room for everyone in the community.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
Rabbit and Squirrel: A Tale of War and Peas by Kara LaReau
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: This reading from Matthew continues with Jesus speaking about forgiveness. The parable he tells of the unforgiving servant illustrates what might happen if forgiveness is withheld. It is much easier to expect someone to forgive us, than to offer forgiveness to another person. Yet, without forgiveness, our interactions with each other are colored by anger, frustration and hurt. In Rabbit and Squirrel: A Tale of War and Peas, Rabbit wakes up one morning to find vegetables from her garden missing and automatically assumes Squirrel is the one responsible. Rabbit then marches over to Squirrel’s house to confront Squirrel. The story continues as the next day vegetables are missing from Squirrel’s garden and their fighting continues to escalate. This story ends in much the same way any story ends when forgiveness is withheld, with Rabbit and Squirrel still fighting.
The Lectionary Links are written this week by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Elizabeth Boulware Landes.