17th Sunday after Pentecost
Year C: October 6, 2019
First Reading: Lamentations 3:19-26
The Rough Patch by Cynthia Platt
(Written for ages 4-7)
Comment: The fall of Jerusalem is the background for the five poems that make up the book of Lamentations and the Revised Common Lectionary offers two pericopes from Lamentations this week. If you choose to use the first (Lamentations 1:1-6), Storypath has several suggestions for books linked to this scripture. In Lamentations 3:19-26, the writer has moved from the grief and sorrow of chapter 1 into a claiming of God’s faithfulness in the midst of sorrow, hardship and loss. Evan the fox does everything with his dog. Their lives are filled with many adventures and experiences, but they especially love working together in the garden where everything they do produces wonderful things. One day, Evan’s best friend dies, and without his best friend, “the garden was a bitter and Lonely place”. As Evan experiences the loss of his friend, he acts in his grief to destroy the garden. His sense of loss expresses itself in painful pictures of the destruction of everything that was important to them. Eventually, a small seed produces a pumpkin, that leads Evan to emerge somewhat from his grief. The small pumpkin grows into a big pumpkin which sends Evan to the fair. When his pumpkin wins a prize, the prize offered is cash or a small puppy. The last page shows Evan and a puppy in the front seat of his truck, heading home. Evan is a good example of the need to lament the situations, experiences, and actions that cause pain to ourselves and others before healing and restoration can take place.
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-14
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: The writer of 2 Timothy knows something of Timothy’s life – how his faith was nurtured and grew from the example of his grandmother and mother. He knows, too, as Matt Skinner says, that “[Timothy’s] faith and calling aren’t ancillary to his identity; they are part of who he is. Consider, then, exploring with a congregation how our beliefs and ministry are meaningfully connected to our personal and corporate identities, rooted in particular yet shared heritages.” Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela thinks her name is too long and shares her frustration with her father, saying, “It never fits.” He proceeds to tell her the story of her name – how her grandmother Sofia loved books and her other grandmother Candela always stood up for what was right. As each person is described, Sofia recognizes that their gifts have made their way to her and their stories help make up who she is. When asked about Alma, her father states that he chose that name just for her and she will write her own story, Like Timothy, Alma’s holds the gifts she has been given in trust as she lives into her own story and calling.
Gospel Reading: Luke 17:5-10
If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson
(Written for ages 5-8)
Comment: Have you ever wondered if your faith was strong enough, brave enough, impressive enough to show your love for Christ and Christ’s world? It certainly seems the disciples themselves were worried that their faith might not be strong enough for the work of discipleship. Greg Carey wonders what we ask for when we ask for more faith? Something mystical? Something showy? “By God’s grace, discipleship requires not unshakable confidence or spectacular accomplishments. Luke’s Jesus indeed makes extraordinary demands of his disciples, yet sometimes discipleship requires ordinary and daily practices of fidelity and service.” A rabbit and a mouse plant three seeds and watch a tomato, carrot and cabbage grow. When they are about to eat their bounty, a group of birds come up and stare hungrily at the food. As the page spread shows all the parties staring at each other, the text moves from speaking of sowing plant seeds, to planting seeds of selfishishness, with images of all the animals fighting over the food. Subsequent images speak of and show what happens when seeds of kindness are planted and allowed to grow. This book can remind your listeners of the simple, ordinary acts of faith that can bear good fruit in the world.
The Revised Common Lectionary Links this year are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Ann Thomas Knox.