YEAR C: January 27, 2019
First Reading: Nehemiah 8: 1-3, 5-6, 8-10
Remy the Rhino Learns Patience by Andy McGuire
(Written for ages 1-5)
Comment: Ezra gathered in front of an assembly of people for what may be one of history’s longest sermons. He read from the book of the law of Moses from the early morning until the middle of the day. Those listening were attentive and were patient to learn the lessons of the law. After hearing, they worship and praised God. Then they read some more and interpreted what the law meant for them, which was another task that required much patience. Sometimes patience can be a difficult practice to learn. Andy McGuire tells us the rhythmic story of Remy, an impatient rhino who snorts and charges at other animals when they annoy him. One day, Remy gets his horn stuck in a tree. He can’t break himself free of the tree, so he has to be patient with the aardvark and termites who work to get him free. How have people in your community taught you the practice of patience? How does patience fit in to your faith journey?
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12: 12-31a
Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: Paul continues this week with his writings on unity in diversity in the body of Christ. The foot, the ear, and the eye each have a different function, but they work together for one body. Similarly, in our baptisms, each of us is made into one body, the body of Christ. We bring all of our unique gifts, skills, and talents with us to that body, complementing one another to be the beloved community to help usher in God’s kingdom here on earth. Kensky and Downes illustrate one way two friends complement one another. Jessica is adjusting to a new normal after suffering a leg injury and learning to use prosthetics to walk again. Rescue is a young puppy who is looking forward to being a seeing eye dog when he grows up. However, things don’t quite go as planned when he learns he would be better suited to be a service dog. His disappointment dissipates when he meets Jessica. The pair work together to accomplish things they would not be able to do on their own. Think of someone in your faith community who is different than you. How could you and that person work together for the body of Christ?
Third Reading: Luke 4: 14-21
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard
(Written for ages 4-8)
Commment: In the synagogue, Jesus stands up and reads from Isaiah’s scroll of what he is called to do. Jesus was called to make a difference in the world and to seek justice for others. Yet, before he could do that, he had to recognize that injustice. In this timely book, Celano, Collins, and Hazzard sensitively tell the story of two families- one White, one Black- reeling from the recent death of a Black man in their community who was shot by the police. Emma and Josh, two children, recognize that something terrible has happened. They ask the adults in their lives to help clarify what happened and why. With useful resources for parents, child-friendly word definitions, and discussions questions included, this story helps children to identify the injustice of racism in their own lives, and then to think through ways they might counter that injustice. This story could be a template for faith communities to use in discerning how they might be called to seek justice for others as Emma and Josh recognize an injustice, explore that injustice with others, and then seek to respond to it.
Thanks to Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Rosy Robson for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.