21th Sunday after Pentecost
Year C: November 3, 2019
First Reading: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
Why? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Habakkuk wrote in the last days of the Judean Kingdom. Good King Josiah had been killed in battle by Egyptian troops. They put a weak and bad king, Jehoiakim, in his place, a king who built himself a new palace while the people struggled to pay taxes. Why was a good king killed? Why did a wicked king prosper and the poor suffer? The prophet watches and waits for God’s answer; he expects God to answer. God says that there will be more waiting and watching, but that evil will not always prosper. And then words that have been central throughout the history of God’s people: The righteous live by their faith. Have you ever wanted to ask God a question? This passage encourages us to do that. A young rabbit and a bear carry on a conversation that consists of one word for the rabbit: “Why?” He sees the bear watering flowers and just says, “Why?” The bear patiently gives answer to every question the rabbit asks (with the exception of one). The rabbit’s incessant questioning and trust that answers will come can be recognized in Habakkuk’s questioning of God. We can expect God to answer, but perhaps not always as we expect. The life of a disciple is not always lived with answers to questions, but always with trust in God.
Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
Ten Thank You Letters by Daniel Kirk
(Written for ages 5 – 8)
Comment: Paul had preached in Thessalonika on his 2nd missionary journey. He had spent only about 3 weeks with the new Christians before they smuggled him out of town at night to escape an angry mob. Eager to have news about this young church, he sent Timothy back while he was preaching to new Christians (probably in Corinth.) Timothy returned with news and questions. These letters to the Thessalonians are the first words written in our New Testament. Letters make up most of the chapters of the New Testament and they can still be an important part of our life today-letters to our families and friends, letters to prisoners, to missionaries, and to public officials who vote on government issues. Paul gives thanks for the growing faith and love of this young church, and for their steadfastness in persecution. Pig is writing a thank you letter to his grandmother for a new sweater. Pig’s friend, Rabbit, knocks on the door and wants to play catch. On hearing that Pig is writing a letter, Rabbit wants to join in the party and he proceeds to interrupt Pig’s own writing ten times to write thank you letters to those in his life for whom he is grateful. Wonder about what you might say in a letter meant to express gratitude and encouragement to your congregation?
Gospel Reading: Luke 19:1-10
Mini Rabbit Is Not Lost by John Bond
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Laura S. Sugg suggests that this story is about two searches. One search is undertaken by Zaccheus in his eagerness to see Jesus and the other is God’s relentless search for us. (Feasting on the Word: Year C, Vol. 4, p. 262) Zaccheus, a man of some wealth in his community, does something that might seem a little foolish for a man of his means: he climbs a tree just to be able to see Jesus. But Jesus also sees Zaccheus, and in response to Zaccheus’ willingness to have Jesus stay at his home, Jesus extends his own welcome. Zaccheus is welcomed into the home that God offers all through the saving love of Christ. Mini Rabbit loves cake and needs to find berries for this cake. Without planning or thinking about how he might get the berries, he runs out the door – and goes searching various places before realizing that he is absolutey lost. In his eagerness to find the berries, he has worked hard, but found himself unable to complete the task because he doesn’t know where his home is. In a dark cave, he gets a hint of something – a smell of cake. He follows that wonderful scent until he finds himself at home with his mother and about to enjoy that which he wanted all along. (If you use this story, you may want to leave off the last page where Mini Rabbit, once home with his heart’s desire, decides that now he’d rather have ice cream!) Just as the smell of cake leads Mini Rabbit home, Jesus reaches out to find us, whoever and wherever we are, and welcome us into God’s family.
(A new printing of this book, linked to above, will be published by Holiday House on October 8. You may be able to find copies of the earlier printing by Harper Collins called Mini Rabbit, Not Lost.)
This week’s Revised Common Lectionary Links were co-written by Virginia C. Thomas and Ann Thomas Knox, both graduates of Union Presbyterian Seminary, and a mother and daughter who have been sharing with each other the stories of the Bible and of children’s literature for years.