Year A: January 19, 2014
First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-7
Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack
(Written for ages 6-12)
Comment: In Isaiah’s second Servant Song, the Servant knew God’s call even in the womb. And that makes the Servant’s frustration even more profound—the work the Servant has been doing doesn’t seem to have fulfilled that early call, every effort seems like a failure. But the Servant is strengthened by God’s continuing presence and voice. “When God speaks again, God not only renews the Servant’s original calling, but enlarges the scope of it”, Stephanie A. Paulsell writes (Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 1, pg. 244). Having heard God’s voice once again, the Servant continues on to bigger promises. In Goin’ Someplace Special, with her grandmother’s encouragement, Tricia Ann sets out for ‘Someplace Special’ on her own. Though she tries to “hold her head up”, like her grandmother told her, she finds herself increasingly disheartened by the evidence of Jim Crow laws throughout the city, preventing her from being included equally. When she starts to give up in frustration, a friend urges her to think of her grandmother, and in remembering her grandmother’s words, Tricia Ann continues on to ‘Someplace Special’—the fully integrated public library. A continued encouraging word helps Tricia Ann reach her goal, and the continued presence of the Lord urges the Servant to be a light for all nations.
Second Reading: I Corinthians 1:1-9
A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was addressed to a troubled and troubling congregation. Paul wrote to confront some of the issues they had, and what followed the greeting was, no doubt, hard for them to hear from their teacher. But before he goes into his more challenging purpose, his greeting demonstrates the love, the thanksgiving, the connection in Christ that they share, and which undergirds everything he’s about to say to them. The cosmic truth of their relationship will remain intact, even in difficult times. As Alan Gregory writes, “The greeting, then, establishes the theological reality that no human quarrel can destroy” (Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 1, pg. 256). In A Baby Sister for Frances, Frances ‘runs away’ (to under the dining room table), after she gets fed up with the disruptive presence of her baby sister. But when Frances overhears her parents’ conversation about how much they and even baby sister miss her, Frances comes back to open arms and a family that always loves her. Underneath the legitimate frustrations of having a new baby, and of balancing a life together, Frances knows that her family is still founded on love, and underneath their frustration with one another, Paul and the Corinthians know their family in Christ is founded on love.
Gospel Reading: John 1:29-42
Follow Me by Tricia Tusa
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Rodger Y. Nishioka writes, “John the Baptist plays an important role. He provides testimony as to who Jesus is and points the way so that others come to recognize Jesus Christ” (Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 1, pg. 262). John identifies Jesus as “the lamb of God” on his own, and then does the same with two of his disciples present. They, then, choose to follow Jesus, and one of them finds his brother and encourages him also to follow Jesus. The invitations to follow are personal and direct, and blossom out of each encounter. This personal evangelism is crucial to Jesus’ ministry, and his method of discipleship. They are eager to follow someone personally known and identified, who also knows them. In Follow Me, readers are offered the same personal invitation—to join a young girl as she goes on a surprising journey—not in a car, or a plane, but on a swing! As she sails through the air, the girl experiences joy and surprise, and she invites the reader to come along. That sense of being personally invited on a journey is what John points out to his disciples, and what Jesus gives to them.
This Lectionary Links post was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Sara Anne Berger, pastor of the Whitmire Presbyterian Church, Whitmire, SC.
Additional Links for these same passages used in 2011 can be found here.