27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18
A is For Activist by Innosanto Nagara
(Written for 3 & up)
Comment: In her commentary on this passage, Barbara Brown Taylor says, “there is no way to mirror holiness without benefitting the neighbor.” This portion of Torah law speaks to the holiness of God made possible through the love of neighbor, but love here is not defined so much by care as by justice. To love the neighbor is to seek the neighbor’s highest good just as you seek your own highest good. An unconventional take on a board book for children, Nagara’s work offers much to adults, too. Posing as an alphabet learning book, the message is one of social justice, openness, equality, and an overall call to action for children and adults while learning the many ways to benefit the person other than ourselves (in Leviticus, the neighbor).
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Tiny & Hercules by Amy Schwartz
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Tiny and Hercules are an odd couple, but they are the best of friends. Throughout this book of five vignettes, we learn how Tiny cares for Hercules and vice versa. When one struggles, the other offers encouraging words and/or redirects the friend with a new idea to help them become more successful. It’s clear that the two are very dear friends and have the best of intentions for one another at heart. Paul writes here to Thessalonica about a deep care that extends beyond just sharing the Gospel of Christ; the Thessalonians have become so dear to Paul that the ministry takes on a personal tone. Sharing of self is an intimacy that requires ongoing care for the other. Sharing self takes courage and it means following up, showing tender care, giving ongoing care, and seeking to continue the relationship no matter what. We see this level of relationship intimacy – self sharing – in the story of Tiny & Hercules.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 22:34-46
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis
(Written for age 3 & up)
Comment: At this point in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus has set the record straight many times over with all of the religious leaders questioning his authority. In the middle of yet another group of tests, Jesus reminds leaders of the greatest commandment: to love God and love others. To further punctuate the importance of this message (commandment) Jesus again makes note of his place as Messiah, thus ceasing further questioning. Jesus ends on a “mic drop” with the most important commandment as his final word. Kilodavis’s book was written from a personal space and is a “mic drop” of sorts for all us readers who may think that boys can’t wear dresses (etc.) or express themselves in ways the world says is different. The book calls attention to how our behavior is bullying and hurtful toward the Princess Boy and others like him. When Kilodavis reminds us that the Princess Boy “is happy because we love him for who he is,” we see that we love God with our heart, soul, and mind when we love our neighbor for who they are. Acceptance is love; and, love of others reflects our theology of God.
Thanks to Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Katie Todd for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links this week.