Year A: January 5, 2020
First Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-14
Anna Hibiscus’ Song by Atinuke
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: Though Judah will be defeated and go into exile in Babylon for about 75 years, God promises they he will bring them home. This is a poem of great joy. Hebrews did not rhyme poetry as we do; they repeated ideas, saying things twice in a slightly different way. There is praise and gladness as even the blind, the lame, expectant mothers, (those who can’t travel very well) will be returning by a straight path beside a stream of water. Their life will become like a watered garden with abundant crops and flocks. Best of all they will sing and be radiant over the goodness of the Lord. The poet tries to paint a perfect picture because God will shepherd his people. God has redeemed them. The story today is one of a young girl who feels such joy at that which she sees around her. She tries to express that joy in ways that her friends and family do, but finds the truest expression of her joy when she begins to sing. Do you have a favorite hymn or song that expresses joy for God’s promises to us? How do you express joy to God? (This book is out of print, but there are many copies available through interlibrary loan, and some very reasonably priced paperback copies in the used book market.)
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14
These Hands by Margaret H. Mason
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: In one of his sermons, Fred Craddock stated that one of the main purposes of gathering in worship is to ‘read the will….. so that all the children of God will know what their inheritance is.” ( Fred Craddock, “How Long Does Easter Last?”, The Cherry Log Sermons, 2003. p. 103.) Paul had started a church in Ephesus many years ago. Now he writes to them from prison to remind them of the Gospel and to pray for them. These verses in Ephesians share Paul’s list of gifts that God has given us. God has adopted us, forgiven us, and given us the Holy Spirit. This is the inheritance we have received as children of God. In These Hands, a grandfather passes on gifts to his grandson. His hands that used to be able to tie a knot in three seconds may no longer be able to do that, but they can help his grandson learn to tie his shoes. The grandfather shares many ways in which his hands can teach his grandson to do things with his hands. In addition, the grandfather shares that when he was working at the WonderBread bakery, his hands were not allowed to mix the bread dough because he was black. But his hands, and others, signed petitions, wrote letters, and engaged in changing the practices that prevented them from full participation in their workplace. What an inheritance this grandfather has passed on to his grandson and what an inheritance we have been given through the Holy Spirit!
Gospel Reading: John 1: (1-9), 10-18
At Break of Day by Nikki Grimes
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: “In the beginning was the Word…..the Word became flesh.” John begins his Gospel in a very different way than Matthew, Mark or Luke. There are no Old Testament prophecies, no genealogies. Instead, you have a picture of the Word present at the beginning of creation and later present in the world as one of us in the world the Word helped create. Other links for this passage in the past have focused on the Word becoming flesh. For another approach, you might use one of the few books that tells the creation story as one in which the Son is present. In Grimes’ telling, the Father and Son are co-creators of the world and all that is in it, which could provide a way to connect to the first five verses of John.
This week’s Revised Common Lectionary Links are co-written by Virginia C. Thomas and Ann Thomas Knox.