Fifth Sunday of Epiphany
First Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8 (9-13)
On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
(Written for ages 1-4)
Comment: “Not ever before… has the world ever known a you my friend, and it never will, not ever again.” This book celebrates the individuality of every child born, which harkens back to the creative nature and power of God. The world stops to celebrate the birth of the child, and in the celebration all of creation wonders if the child recognizes his and her specialness, too. The prophet Isaiah is a man called by God, given the power by God to use his gifts to speak on behalf of God. The scripture lets us know that only through God’s gifts bestowed upon us – in our creation in utero, or in the cleansing of lips with a stone – can we share the gospel of the Lord in this world. Our faith gives us hope to speak out and volunteer, and our God has clearly created us to be God’s spokespersons in the world. All of creation celebrates our birth…and eagerly awaits our leadership on behalf of God in this world. Will we heed the call?
Second Reading: I Corinthians 15:1-11
Another Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
(Written for ages 1-6)
Comment: Paul’s message to the Corinthians here is about witness. Paul shares his own witness while encouraging the Corinthian church to do the same. He reminds them that they have received/heard the good news, they stand/live in the hope of the good news, and they are being saved by the good news as well. Because of this, they must be aware that their understanding of the gospel message is not just information for them to hold for themselves, but rather for them to realize, internalize, and then share. As the good news is proclaimed – through all who have received it – more people will come to believe. Brown’s Book is a unique story that walks children through stages of their life based upon their age. In the book, she proclaims what she sees as the most important thing about each age/stage, but also encourages the children to claim for themselves (if they want to) what they understand and believe to be the most important thing about that particular age of their life. This book becomes an exercise in witness to what they’ve experienced, with practice in proclamation of their beliefs for the benefit of others.
Gospel Reading: Luke 5:1-11
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
(Written for ages 13 and up)
Comment: The call of Simon Peter, the first disciple, is a story of risk: Jesus starts with a small risk asking the men to trust him, and the risks gradually grow. There is risk for both parties involved, but the relationship begins with Christ taking a risk, or asking a favor of them. Simon Peter has the opportunity to turn away from the offer, and even proclaims himself unfit, but he doesn’t, so the risk pays off and is also multiplied as it transfers to another from Christ. Atticus Lee takes a risk, both professionally and with his family, when he chooses to cross racial lines and defend a black man accused (wrongly) of raping a white girl. The story is set in the south in the depression, where the risk multiplies as his family inherits what he takes upon himself. Luke’s story portrays unpredictable outcomes of a group of people who are trusting Jesus in his request for more when they feel they are at their limits. Atticus realizes the bargain he’s making, but also realizes that a man’s life is more important than the risk. With the outcomes unknown, he accepts the challenge of what he knows to be the right thing to do and faithfully walks away from the path of certainty for the endeavor set before him on a new path. Likewise, the disciples accept the new adventure of following Christ, stepping away from the known and venturing down the path of the unknown. The risks are great, but the reward is greater.
Thanks to Katie Barrett Todd, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna, for writing the Lectionary Links this week.