Year C: August 18, 2019
First Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7
Badger’s Perfect Garden by Marsha Diane Arnold
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: “My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines…” In this text, we hear of the gardener’s disappointment when all of his work and care to plant a vineyard go to waste. Badger, like the gardener, works very hard to plant a perfect, orderly garden and he is devastated when storms destroy it. Isaiah compares the vineyard planting to God’s people and describes God’s grief and anger when God’s planting yields bloodshed and tears rather than justice and righteousness. This Badger’s story helps children to see a fuller picture of brokenness and redemption. Although Badger’s plants don’t bloom in his garden plot, they do fill the neighboring field with a hodgepodge of colors, shapes, and sizes that look like a celebration. As you share this text and story, invite your congregation to share their own stories of brokenness and redemption.
Second Reading: Hebrews 11:29-12:2
Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…” Through courage, example, and teaching, our cloud of witnesses helps us to live a life of faith. Mrs. Badger is part of Lulu’s cloud of witnesses and teaches her to climb to Sugarloaf Peak, even when it is hard to have faith. Over time we see how Mrs. Badger’s help strengthens Lulu’s faith, knowledge, relationships, and abilities. Eventually Mrs. Badger is too old to climb the mountain, but Lulu continues, and eventually teaches the wonders of the mountain to someone new. This story is a beautiful example of what it is to share and pass along our faith from generation to generation.
Gospel Reading: Luke 12:49-56
Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of an American Feud by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain
(Written for ages 8-12)
Comment: This text can be really confusing and seems to contradict so much of what we believe about Jesus’ teaching and the unity of the Church. Pastor Erick J. Thompson suggests that we focus not on the existence of divisions between people, but how we respond to them. “One possibility may be to see that God is at work in all realities, and that division is not the problem. Perhaps it is in our own naive expectation that we have more truth than others. Instead, could God be at work on both sides of an issue?” Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had a deep, fraternal friendship doing everything together until they were divided on their belief of what type of president should serve their new country. This division of belief led to a feud that lasted over a decade. Eventually, they made peace, acknowledging the other’s right to his opinion and love of country. This text and story invite us to consider how we can love God and love one another, even when we are divided.
Thanks to Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Noell Rathbun for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.