22nd Sunday after Pentecost
Year C: November10, 2019
First Reading: Haggai 1:15b-2:9
The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: When the Hebrew exiles were allowed to return to their home by the Persians they found that Solomon’s magnificent temple had been completely destroyed. They had been home for 18 years and still had no place to gather for worship. The prophet Haggai said that it was time for them to begin to build. There were many reasons not to build: they were poor; their neighbors opposed the building, they remembered the temple that had been and could not hope to match it. But God, who commands them to build, makes some extravagant promises: I am with you, my spirit abides among you, I will bring silver and gold and prosperity. All of us know what it is to be discouraged, to compare the present situation unfavorably to the past, to want to ignore the work God has for us. But the prophet reminds them of the temple’s central place in their life together, and encourages the community to work together to offer their best work to God as they rebuild it as a way to honor the God who has promised to be with them – past, present and future. Lou considers herself a person who loves an adventure and she is up for anything until her friends want a treetop to be their pirate ship – and Lou can’t climb a tree. She sees how much fun it will be; she remembers her past adventures that she loved. But all she can think of is all of the reasons NOT to climb the tree – her arm is sore, the cat needs a walk, she heard you shouldn’t climb a tree so soon after eating. In the end, Lou realizes how much she wants to climb the tree, and after climbing for what seems like ages, sees she has only climbed a very little way. Falling to the ground, we read, “Lou can’t climb trees….not yet.” In her fear and discouragement, we sense that Lou will continue to work on this hard thing. The temple was not rebuilt during Haggai’s time, but God kept God’s promise. God was with the people, God gave them courage to face hostile neighbors, God’s Spirit made them a people again One day several hundred years later Herod did build a dazzling temple. Then God came in Jesus so that a temple was no longer needed.
Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17
That Is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Paul had preached that the return of Jesus was at hand. Jesus had told his disciples that the time of his return was known only to God and they were to be at work making new disciples but he did promise to return. Some teachers in Thessalonica, whether from out of town or local members, had “shaken the members in mind and alarmed them.” They expected the day of the Lord immediately. Paul writes quickly to tell them that many things will happen before the Lord’s return, that there will be much sin and lawlessness before this happens. The good event that they hoped for seemed to be interfering with their present life. Paul wanted both to warn and encourage these new Christians. He wanted them to be careful about who they listened to and what they acted on. A wolf spies a goose walking in the woods and invites her to dinner. Through several pages, the wolf continues to lure the goose on to his cabin and kitchen, while after each decision the goose makes to proceed, her chicks are yelling out to her on other pages that “that is really, really, REALLY” not a good idea. Wonder together about how we might best listen for God wants to teach us.
Gospel Reading: Luke 20:27-38
I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: What happens when we die? In Jesus’ day, two groups of people tried to answer this question. The Pharisees said that we would continue to live with God in heaven; the Sadducees said that death was the end. When the Sadducees asked Jesus about this he said, “You know neither the scripture nor the power of God.” The answer to this important question will be found in knowing the Bible and knowing God in God’s power. All the unanswered questions about what happens when we die can be left with the God who loves us. We don’t need to worry about being able to imagine life after death and can rejoice in the fact that our lives are lived in God’s love. And as Karoline Lewis says, this knowledge of the future should impact how we live now. “We can spend a lot of energy asking about or imagining the details of eternal life, or, we can channel that energy toward how the security of its promise might make a difference for how we choose to live now.” This aspect of living in God’s love now because of the promise that we are God’s forever is one way to approach this text with children. Jesus was talking about the life God offers through him, and that impacts how we live now. In today’s wordless book, a young girl is bullied by a boy in her class and walks home alone, crying. Other children see this happen, talk about it together, and it clearly worries them. The next morning, one of the girls who has witnessed the other girl’s fear, goes to her house, knocks on her door, and proceeds to walk to school with her. As they walk together, the other children join them, holding hands together and visibly demonstrating a joyful community that includes everyone. Wonder together how our actions reflect the promise of God’s love in our lives.
The Revised Common Lectionary Links this week are co-written by Union Presbyterian Seminary graduates Virginia C. Thomas and Ann Thomas Knox.