Year A: March 22, 2020
First Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13
The Hungry Coat by Demi
(Written for ages 6-10)
Comment: God is going to choose a new king for Israel. Saul has failed in his duties and God instructs Samuel to go find a new king among the sons of Jesse in Bethlehem. How will Samuel know who the new king is? Will it be the oldest son? The strongest? The bravest? The tallest? None of the seven sons of Jesse that pass before Samuel seems right because God says,” I don’t look on the outward appearance, but on the heart.” Jesse admits that he has one other son, David, who is tending sheep and Samuel says that he must be sent for. When David comes he is handsome, has beautiful eyes and God says, “This is the one”. So Samuel anoints David and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. What does it mean to say that God looks on the heart rather than on the physical appearance? David was handsome and yet God chose him.
In Demi’s Turkish folk tale, Nasrettin Hoca is a man who wears a coat made of patches upon patches, but who likes to help people wherever he goes. On one occasion, he helps calm a goat who is causing havoc in a kitchen, and then finds himself late to a dinner to which old friends have invited him. When he arrives at the banquet with his old coat, which is now also oily and smelling like goat, all his friends turn their back on him. Nasrettin recognizes that it is his coat that is causing his friends to see him differently. He slips off to bathe and put on the finest coat imaginable and is then welcomed with open arms. When he begins feeding his coat all the delicious food at the banquet, his friends ask what he is doing. Nasrettin said that since he was treated differently in the new coat, it must have been the coat that they had invited and not the man himself. Nasrettin admonishes his friends that one’s outward appearance has nothing to do with one’s inward heart. God says the same thing to Samuel. What does God look for when God is choosing a new leader?
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14
Let It Shine by Ashley Bryan
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Once you were darkness; now, in the Lord, you are light. Live as children of the light. What does it mean to be a child of the light? Have you been outside at night with no street lights? When you go into a dark room, what happens when you turn on the light switch? This scripture suggests that a child of light tries to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. His or her life can be seen by everyone. This life will give light to others as turning on the light switch in a dark room does. What is bad can be seen in the light; what is good can be seen as well. The scripture also compares the child of light with one who is awake and includes the promise that ” Christ will shine on you.” Our light is a reflection of Christ’s light.
Bryan’s striking illustrations for the familiar spiritual ‘This Little Light of Mine’ show the power of light. Using bold, bright colors, Bryan show children engaging sources of light (flashlights, candles, lamps, fire) and the exuberance of the color and textures in the illustrations brings out the joy of being a child of light. The last page shows children participating in everyday activities such as skating or riding a bike, shining the lights they carry with them each day. You might want to accompany this book by singing the spiritual which ties in nicely with being children of the light.
Gospel Reading: John 9:1-41
Listen Buddy by Helen Lester
(Written for ages 4-7)
Jesus’ healing of the man who was born blind is a miracle story, but it is something more. As Karoline Lewis points out, the blind man first hears Jesus’ command to go wash in the pool of Siloam and then his sight is restored. And immediately after his healing, the former blind man’s neighbors and religious leaders refuse to listen to the simple facts of the his testimony: I was blind but now I can see. The refusal of neighbors and leaders to believe what they are hearing is as much of the part of the story as refusing to believe what they see.
It doesn’t matter that young rabbit Buddy has big beautiful ears. His half-hearted listening creates havoc whenever someone requests something of him. When sent to the vegetable stand to get a basket of squash, he came home with a basket of wash. When Buddy’s father asks him to bring him a pen, Buddy brings him a hen. Buddy’s inability to hear what others are asking of him gets him in a situation where all of a sudden, he does hear what is being said, and it changes him. Wonder together how we listen for how Jesus might be speaking to us.
The Revised Common Lectionary Links this week are co-written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumnae Virginia C. Thomas and Ann Thomas Knox.