Year B: March 25, 2018
First Reading: Mark 11:1-11
The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is the beginning of the end of his life on earth. This celebration begins the holiest week when we prepare for the Easter resurrection we know is ahead. Jesus has some idea, too, having already told his disciples about his dying and rising again, so he knows this celebration will lead to crucifixion and then resurrection. Late in the evening, after the procession, he comes and looks around at the temple, before he starts off to Bethany to be with his disciples a little longer. In The Night World, a little boy and his cat, Sylvie, stay up after everyone else goes to bed and go outside into the night world. They look around at everything—at bushes, trees, stars, and animals—and see them in the dark. But the whole time Sylvie is saying “It’s coming, it’s almost here”, and finally what she is referring to appears: the sunrise over the horizon. While they were looking around at the night world, the sunrise was always coming and on its way. As we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry, we know that this is merely the beginning of an even greater celebration, a light of resurrection that is coming over the horizon. We can spend this week looking at Jesus’ life, his final hours, his death, knowing that this resurrection is coming.
Second Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9
Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
(Written for ages 5-8)
Comment: Isaiah’s passage describes someone with the tongue of a teacher who has been taught by God. And that same teacher is able, then, to sustain the weary and confront adversaries. In Thank you, Mr. Falker, Tricia struggles to read and write because of her dyslexia. Her classmates tease her and she feels like a failure. But her teacher, Mr. Falker, realizes what is going on and makes the effort to help her so she, too, can read, write, and succeed in school. Mr. Falker was a teacher, like in Isaiah, who used his teaching ability to sustain a weary student and help confront her adversaries. We are people taught by God, not only for our own benefit, but so that we can sustain the weary, and confront those things that would try to diminish us or other people.
Third Reading: Philippians 2:5-11
The Day I Became a Bird by Ingrid Chabbert
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: In The Day I Became a Bird, a boy loves his classmate, Sylvia, but she only ever notices birds. The boy so deeply wants to be seen and known by Sylvia that he dresses as a bird to get her attention. In Philippians it tells us that Jesus, though he was in the form of God, chose, instead, to humble himself and take the form of a human. Jesus loved us so much that he chose to become like us, so that we would see him and know him. Jesus shows us that love is worth reaching out and doing extraordinary things to show how we feel.
Bear and Bird by James Skofield
(Written for ages 6-8)
Comment: This passion passage is heavily detailed and intense, but the crux of it is that Jesus is going to die. He spends his final meal, his final prayer time with his disciples, knowing he is going to die, and by the time of his arrest, they, too, know for sure that he is going to die. Before we turn to the resurrection, we have to acknowledge this death, and the grief which accompanies it. In Bear and Bird, a bear rescues a baby bird, and afterward they become friends. They spend time together as long as the bird is up north, and the bear awake. The only time they are apart is when the bird flies south and the bear hibernates. But one year the bird flies back north, and the bear does not come out from hibernation. The bird learns that the bear has died. The bird is very sad that this friend has died, and as he grieves, he remembers their times together during their friendship. We, too, know what it is to grieve, like the bird and like Jesus’ disciples, and we also grieve over what Jesus suffered in his death. Even as we remain hopeful in the resurrection, we remember and help each other grieve.
Thank you to Sara Ann Berger, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Nachitoches, LA, for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.