Year A: May 17, 2020
First Reading: Acts 17:22-31
When God Made the World by Matthew Paul Turner
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Once again Paul is preaching, this time in Athens, a city in Greece. It was a beautiful city with many statues, most of them idols. There was even a statue to an “unknown God.” Paul speaks at the Areopagus, a place we can still see today, and in this sermon, he wants to tell people about the true God who is different than their unknown Gods represented by their idols. The God that Paul talks about is both the creator of the world and everything in it, but also very close to us. God isn’t a statue, but a the source of our life made known to us in the risen Christ. In God, we live, and move, and exist (CEB). God is both so great that God created the world, and so close that God lives in us and we find our home in God.
Turner’s story uses contemporary illustrations in a rhyming retelling of the Genesis creation stories, and emphasizes the fact that humans are created with hearts and souls whose stories are intertwined with the story that God began in creation. The illustrations and the way Turner tells this story makes connections between Paul’s sermon about God’s created order and the way we live in it. The source of our world is also the source of our lives. (The illustrations in this book are wonderfully diverse! This is an excellent book for a church library or church school classroom even if you don’t use it for this passage.)
Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:13-22
Pea Pod Lullaby by Glenda Millard
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Peter writes to believers who are suffering. In some places it is a crime to be a Christian. They may go to prison or be killed. Peter tells them how to suffer. Be sure you are not suffering for doing wrong. When you suffer for doing right, you are blessed. Don’t be afraid, but keep Christ in your heart. Share the hope that you have despite suffering and do this with gentleness and respect. Most of us don’t suffer like Peter’s readers but sometimes a friend is unkind, a teacher is unfair, something bad happens to us. Is Peter’s advice good for us too?
This is the third week we have read passages about the suffering as a result of faith. You might want to focus on the hope that is available through Christ to those who are suffering. In today’s book, a mother, a boy, a baby and a dog are getting into a boat as barbed wire and fires are in the background behind them. One assumes they are fleeing a place where there is war and suffering. As they sail across the unfamiliar ocean in search of a new home, they state their challenge and the recognition that something better is supporting them. “I am the drifting boat. You are the quiet deep. Buoy me.” The last page shows them arriving to a new land. “I am the castaway, you are the journey’s end. Welcome me.” Words of hope surround this family throughout a hard journey and can be a way to enter into conversations about the hope we have because of our faith in God’s love.
Gospel Reading: John 14:15-21
Ojiichan’s Gift by Chieri Uegaki
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Jesus, just like in last week’s passage, continues speaking to his disciples, trying to prepare them for the time when he will no longer be physically present with them. The most important thing he tells them is that he wants them to follow the life of love that they have shared together, and that he will be with them through a special companion – the Holy Spirit This companion will continue to help disciples see Christ in the world and in their lives, and the love that they have known together will abide. Disciples will never be alone, and that is truly good news!
Every year, a girl and her grandfather work together on a Japanese rock garden. One day, her grandfather is too old/unwell to live by himself anymore. He will move away. The girl makes her grandfather and herself portable copies of the garden so there is a new way to think of each other and to get the peace of the garden. The love they shared continued, just as the love Jesus shared with his disciples continues. (The book suggestion this week came from Storypath reader Jo Bonner Oehrlein. Thank you!)
The Revised Common Lectionary Links this week were written by Virginia C. Thomas, Ann Thomas Knox and Storypath reader Jo Bonner Oehrlein.