19th Sunday after Pentecost
First Reading: Isaiah 45:1-7
We’re All Wonders by RJ Palacio
(Written for 4 & up)
Comment: Cyrus is named as “God’s own anointed” which causes an uproar because he’s a foreigner and one who doesn’t know the name of God. Taking it a step further, Isaiah points out that God has “called you by name” as well as God promises to “go before” because God is faithful. This is a message to us and our congregations about our openness to receiving the “other,” and even the one that doesn’t know God’s name. Are we open to hearing how God might be asking us to widen our circles to embrace the new person or new idea? Auggie is a boy who looks differently from everyone and isn’t accepted because of his differences. Auggie has great adventures with his pal Daisy, but no one else. Auggie can see that he’s a wonder and is special, and he sees that others are wonders, too. What he can’t see, however is why people won’t see that about him or others. Auggie just wants people to receive him for him, no matter how he looks.
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Lucky by David Mackintosh
(Written for ages 5-7)
Comment: This epistle opens reminding the Thessalonians that they’ve been chosen by God and that through the Holy Spirit the Gospel has come in power and word to them. Paul shares that they have become imitators of the Lord, even in the face of persecution they have been faith exemplars, thus setting examples for all believers across the land. Paul’s words serve as both a praise and a warning to the church: your faith is known through your actions, no words are necessary, and people are reporting your (good) behaviors to us. Lucky is a story about imagination and jumping to conclusions which also shows the speed of information sharing. When Leo hears his mom announce a special meal for the family dinner, he becomes excited and spreads the news to everyone about something grand for the family surprise. Word spreads quickly among the entire school. The message in the story mimics Paul’s message that we don’t have to do much at all because our behavior sets examples (good or bad) and word travels quickly back to others about what we’re doing.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 22:15-22
Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney
(Written for age 2-6)
Comment: The Herodians and the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus with a question of morality and legality. Jesus, however, transforms the question so that it’s no longer a political issue but a heart issue. The question shows more about the goal of the askers than the need for an answer, and their goal was to catch Jesus in a precarious situation. Rather than becoming angry, Jesus recognizes the need of the Herodians and the Pharisees for more attention, more information, and more clarity about whose law reigns. In this book, Llama Llama becomes mad at his mama because of her dragging him to go shopping rather than allowing him to play, as he was happily doing when the story began. Llama becomes more and more upset and eventually lashes out in a temper tantrum (of epic proportions) in the middle of the store. Mama quickly realizes his need for more attention and less shopping, and responds with much love and care for Llama. Read through the lens of Mama Llama, this gospel passage encourages us to become less angry when challenged unfairly, but to strive for the calm, fair, and careful demeanor of Christ; recognizing the needs of the other rather than being angry at their attempts to interrupt or even sabotage.
Thanks to Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Katie Barrett Todd for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.