Reign of Christ Sunday
Year C: November 20, 2016
As we celebrate the Reign of Christ, we are invited to reconsider our of notions of power and leadership. Certainly Jesus does not look like the kind of king or messiah the people expected. Each of the stories suggested today hold some element of re-envisioning power or leadership. Whether you focus on one passage or all three, this topic in an important one to wonder about with the children of your church.
First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Apes A-Go-Go! by Roman Milisic
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: In his commentary on this text, Nelson Rivera suggests the problem readers are confronted with is “leaders taking advantage of their positions and serving their own narrow interests, rather than the best interest of their own people, whether in ancient Israel or in the modern world.” (Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 4, p 314 & 316) Good leaders brings people together, caring and tending for their well-being. The mayor in Apes A-Go-Go experiences a transformation in his own leadership, from a rigid focus on perfection to a less tidy, more joyful focus on being in community together. As you reflect upon this text and story, consider your own experiences of leaders and the difference between shepherds who scatter and those who gather together.
Second Reading: Colossians 1:11-20
The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: “May you be made strong… and may you be prepared to endure…” Strength training looks different depending upon the participant’s goal. The Epistle follows this blessing with a hymn praising Christ, suggesting that one of the ways we strength train in our faith is through the practice of praise and proclaiming what we believe. For Violetta, strength training required enduring mockery and hours of secret practice in order to become a knight. Practicing faith, like practicing the skills of horseback riding or swordsmanship, is a lifelong, sometimes difficult experience that shapes us into disciples. This text and story invite us to consider what practices make up our own spiritual strength training as we seek to mature in our faith and discipleship.
Gospel Reading: Luke 23:33-43
Troto and the Trucks by Uri Shulevitz
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: When Jesus is being crucified, the leaders, soldiers, and even one of the criminals mock him. Their words suggest an assuredness that if this man were really a king or messiah, he wouldn’t be nailed to a cross. Their understanding of power is limited to something akin to force, rather than love or grace. Likewise, the trucks Troto meets have a “bigger is better” view of power, and mock him for being small. In the end, the very thing he is mocked for enables him to win the race, casting a big shadow as he drives off into the sunset. In the text and story we are confronted with the limits of our understanding and expectation, particularly when it comes to power and might. Invite your congregation to share stories they have heard of unexpected victors and the way power is displayed by the seemingly weak.
The Revised Common Lectionary Links are written this week by Noell Rathbun-Cook, Minister of Children, Families and Liturgical Arts at Grace Baptist Church, Richmond, VA.