Year 2: September 22, 2019
Everywhere, Wonder by Matthew Swanson
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: Without the eyes of faith, Jacob might have wrestled a mysterious stranger and come away not with a blessing or a new name, but a moderately interesting story to tell at cocktail parties. There is nothing in the text that gives the reader any foreknowledge or proof that Jacob is wrestling with anyone other than an human man. But Jacob has experienced a great deal in the time that has passed between stealing a blessing from his brother and demanding a blessing from this man. His eyes have been opened by the vision of a ladder leading up to heaven (Genesis 28) as well as the experience of being swindled himself (Genesis 29). He knows there is more to life than what we can see on the surface, and is able to recognize the divine when God appears to him. Swanson encourages his readers to understand the many hidden wonders that exist in the world, from the jungles of Brazil to the middle of the Coral Sea. He also points out the wonders that exist in our everyday experiences: a balloon stuck in a tree, a shiny dime at the bottom of the pool, a tired dog resting in the sunlight. This book shows children how to view the ordinary moments of their lives as extraordinary experiences, just as Jacob is able to do. This biblical story and children’s book present a great opportunity to help children look back over their day or week and consider when they might have experienced God’s presence and blessing.
Thanks to Joshua Andrzejewski, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumnus and chaplain for the pediatric and women’s health units in the VCU Medical Center, for writing the Year 2 Narrative Lectionary Links.