12th Sunday after Pentecost
YEAR C: August 7th, 2016
First Reading: Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
The Promise by Nicola Davies
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: In The Promise, a girl tries to steal a woman’s purse. The girl lives in a city described as mean, ugly, and hard. She says everything in the city wasis broken, and her own heart is shriveled, too. She thinks nothing of this woman and what she is doing, until the woman holds onto her bag and says the girl can have the bag if she promises to plant what’s inside. The girl agrees, thinking only of getting away with the bag, but upon opening it, discovers acorns. Seeing them, she says her heart has been changed, and she keeps her promise, planting the acorns across the city, transforming it into a paradise. In our Isaiah passage, the people have become mean and hard toward God, everything is broken, and God is angry. God says they have to change their terrible ways, do right by other people, keep their promises to the Lord. God lays out the good and bad, the benefits of changing their ways and losses if they don’t. Just like the older woman demands a change from the girl, so, too, God demands a change from us, when we are living in hard, mean, terrible ways. And just like the girl’s promise changes her heart and her world, God says that changing our ways will benefit us and the people around us.
Second Reading: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest
(Written for ages 6-9)
Comment: The letter to the Hebrews presents a long list of faithful ancestors who looked ahead to what was to come. And though they didn’t have it yet, they lived their lives in expectation and assurance of what was not yet seen. In When Jessie Came Across the Street, Jessie faces the same choice. Living in a faraway village, Jessie’s rabbi offers her an opportunity to travel to America. The rabbi’s family is there waiting for her, so she has heard of America, but never seen it herself. There are many unknowns and reasons for Jessie to be afraid as she goes on her journey. She is a stranger traveling to a place which is not her home. But Jessie boldly looks ahead to what is promised, and travels across the sea to America. And while she travels, she sews for the other passengers, repairing and beautifying their clothes, living on the journey in a way that anticipates where she is headed. We have the same encouragement from these stories—of young immigrants and faithful ancestors, to help us in our journey in this world. We hold on with assurance to what is hoped for. And while we journey toward a holy city, we live in faithful ways, with expectation of what is to come.
Gospel Reading: Luke 12:32-40
The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor
(Written for ages 7-10)
Comment: There are a few different topics which could be addressed in this passage, but one that people are familiar with, and sticks out, is Jesus’ reminder that “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. Whatever you’ve decided is your treasure will grab your focus and effort. In The Table Where Rich People Sit, Mountain Girl decides that monetary wealth is the true treasure and wants her family to have more of it. She sits them down at the table—a table she dislikes because it isn’t where rich people would eat, having been made from leftover lumber—and demands her parents give an accounting of their wealth. So, they do give an accounting of their wealth—of what it is worth to have jobs working outside, watching the desert bloom, of what it is worth to live in a place where they can sleep under the stars, and more. Slowly, Mountain Girl realizes that she has set her heart on the wrong kind of treasure, and that her family is indeed rich in other, wonderful ways. Jesus reminds the crowd to sell and give, because monetary riches are only one kind of treasure, and he knows that whatever we have set our hearts on will direct our lives. We have to be aware of what we have set our hearts on, and be sure it is a treasure that reflects who we are in Jesus Christ.
Thanks to Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Sara Anne Berger for writing the Lectionary Links this week.