4th Sunday after the Epiphany
Year A: February 2, 2020
First Reading: Micah 6:1-8
The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy
(Written for ages 4 – 8)
Comment: We have read from a number of prophets saying that God will judge the people for their sins. They have named some of these sins: greed, taking land from poor people, driving women and children from their homes. Micah is one of these prophets. Micah imagines God presenting God’s case against the people of Judah with the mountains acting as a jury. God names some of the good God has done for them. God has freed them from Egypt, given them good leaders like Moses, protected them against enemies like the Moabites, and saved them from people who would lead them into idolatry. They know the saving acts of the Lord. What can the Judeans do to respond to such goodness? They suggest gifts they can offer, but God isn’t as much interested in their gifts as to what kind of people they will be. God wants people that do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. One way to approach this passage is to focus on one of the ways that God wants people to live. La Paz is a town that once was full of sounds of every kind. In an attempt to gain a little peace and quiet, a mayor is elected who promises to bring quiet to the town. More and more laws are created until finally, the last law says everyone they had to be completely quiet. Into this quiet town comes a rooster who begins to sing his song. Don Pepe, the mayor, threatens the rooster who refuses to stop singing – he’ll cut down the tree where he lives, he’ll put him in a cage. But in every circumstance, the rooster says he cannot keep from singing because of the gifts he has. The rooster says he sings for all who have lost their voice and his singing encourages and enables these people to regain their voices. This portrait of speaking for others who cannot speak for themselves is one way of understanding justice.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (“The Big Brag”) by Dr. Seuss
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: Have you ever heard anyone brag or boast about a good grade, a winning score, a famous relative? Boasting is not a characteristic that we admire, but all of us do it sometime. In this collection of Dr. Seuss stories, “The Big Brag” tells the story of a Rabbit and Bear who get into a disagreement about who is the best because of their particular gifts. Rabbit says his ears can hear more, so Rabbit is the best. Bear says his nose can smell farther, so he is the best. A worm pops up to say that his eyes can see farther and that what he sees are two fools. The Corinthians are boasting about who they follow, how good they are, how much better they are than other people. Paul reminds them who they were – not wise, powerful, or of noble birth. They are ordinary people whom God called. Then Paul tells them that they can boast – in Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God. We can boast in the Lord about all that Christ has done for us.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:1-12
The Catawampus Cat by Jason Carter Eaton
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: One doesn’t have to look far to see that the world that Jesus describes in the Beatitudes that begins the Sermon on the Mount isn’t describing the way we understand things in our world today. Jesus says, “Blessed are the hopeless”. We see “God helps those who help themselves”. The world we live in with its focus on greed, power, presenting the best possible face on social media – this world is in direct contrast to the world that Jesus describes in these verses. I’m indebted to Hanna Schock over at Picture Book Theology (a blog you should know about if you don’t already!) for introducing me to The Catawampus Cat and would encourage you to click the previous link and read her description of how this book shows how a different view of things can transform people and can help listeners think about the upside-down world Jesus in which Christ calls us to live.
Thank you to Union Presbyterian Seminary graduates Virginia C. Thomas and Ann Thomas Knox for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.