Sixth Sunday of Easter
First Reading: Acts 16:9-15
Corduroy by Don Freeman
(Written for ages 3-5)
Comment: Corduroy is the classic story of a small bear who finally gets a home when Lisa walks into the department store and sees him sitting on the shelf. He’d never left the store, but always wanted a friend and a home. Lisa doesn’t buy him immediately, but comes back the next day to pick him up. During the night before he’s purchased, Corduroy sets out on an adventure to find a button and make himself more presentable for his future family. Lisa doesn’t care that he’s only got one button, so she returns to buy him the next morning and welcomes him into her home with a bed of his very own. Lydia is a merchant woman, worshiper of God, who never quite committed herself to a life as a follower of Christ until “the Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul.” Upon her baptism, Lydia invited Paul’s traveling companions to come into her home and stay with her family. Similarly to Lydia, Lisa was moved with compassion and hospitality to warmly open her home to an outsider.
Second Reading: Revelation 21:10, 21:22-22:5
God Created by Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones
(Written for ages 2 & up)
Comment: In Feasting on the Word, Paul “Skip” Johnson says: “The garden that was the beginning home of humanity is again a shared dwelling place where God and God’s people are together in mutual relationship. The tree offers fruit for every month…There is diversity and abundance without division and limitation. Even the leaves of the tree of life are meant for healing, serving as reminders of the shade and solace available from God” (pp. 488, 490). New Jerusalem is the holy city where Eden is re-created in all of God’s perfection. There is no division among the city’s residents, nothing profane or unclean will enter the city, and God will be the light to all of the people. In this new city, God is creating again the perfection he first created when God spoke the world into being. Bozzuti-Jones’ story of creation does a magnificent job of illustrating harmony, inclusivity, peace, hope, community, diversity, and so much more, all of which was intended for Eden and is made complete in the New Jerusalem. Revisiting the creation of the world alongside the new holy city allows us to “fully embrace and celebrate the divine character and fulfillment of God’s will” (Johnson, 490). The words and illustrations of God Created will absolutely help with celebration of God’s intentions in creation – old and new.
Gospel Reading: John 14:23-29
A Mama for Owen by Marion Dane Bauer
(Written for ages 2-8)
Comment: “I will not leave you orphaned,” promises Christ to his disciples in John 14:18. As he prepares his disciples for his departure, in verse 26 Jesus promises that God will bring the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to remain with them and teach them everything and remind them of all he has taught. The Holy Spirit is God’s promise to not orphan any of God’s children; we will never be alone. A Mama for Owen is the true story of a young hippopotamus calf that loses his entire family when the waters rise in the Sabaki River. When the waters return Owen to shore, he searches for his mama but is unable to find her. Eventually he settles in next to an old tortoise named Mzee who becomes his new companion – for rest, for swimming, for eating, and for play. Owen and Mzee cozy up to one another, and Mzee becomes the replacement Mama for Owen in her absence. Mzee brings peace to Owen, and vice versa. This story, while sharing the hard truth of the hippo family being washed away in a flood, offers the peace and comfort that Christ wishes for his disciples when he says “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” In addition to drawing the focus toward the peace Owen experiences with Mzee, the author does a nice job of including a note with the true story of how the Kenyan Wildlife Service rescues Owen. A retelling of this story might include the fictional re-writing alongside the facts included at the end of the book.
Thank you to Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Katie Barrett Todd for writing the Lectionary Links this week.