Year A: May 18, 2014
First Reading: Acts 7:55-60
(Written for ages 4-8, 7-10)
Comment: The Lectionary places us at the end of an important narrative. We learn of Stephen’s death without hearing about any other aspects of his story as one of the first deacon’s in the Church. For some this might be the only interaction they have with this narrative and a wise choice might be to expand the lectionary text to include the whole story. Many children’s Story Bibles leave out this story, as they are geared to young children, and a death by stoning is not very child friendly. Lois Rock in The Lion Bible to Keep For Ever does include Stephen’s narrative and has retold Stephen’s story in two pages. For those who are familiar with the whole narrative it might be more appropriate to look at the forgiveness theme in the lectionary text. In the midst of the stoning, Stephen is able to pray for his enemies and offer them forgiveness. Many times in the scripture, we see heroes and heroines of the faith able to offer forgiveness in the midst of a situation. It seems most often for me that forgiveness does not come so quickly. It is a process for me to move from my hurt, anger, and disappointment to forgiveness. Brother Bear in The Berenstain Bears: The Forgiving Tree is only able to offer forgiveness to his cousin Fred, after he works through his feelings. Like Stephen, Brother Bear and each of us are able to and need to offer forgiveness to those who cause us pain, anger and disappointment, but it may take us a little longer to do so.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:2-10
If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet by Leslie McGuirk
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: If someone called me a stone today, it would not go over well. Who wants to be compared to stone? That is exactly what our lectionary reading does today. It reminds us that we are all living stones. Living stones tell a story, grow with one another, and build each other up. Leslie McGuirk describes her process of collecting stones for the book If Rocks could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet. While walking the beach, she began to notice rocks that looked like letters. As she continued to search the seashore, she was able to build the entire alphabet with rocks. What McGuirk shows us with her collection is that each rock was needed and important to the whole collection. Each brings something special to the table. We are all living rocks. We are all needed and important to the collection of Christians, to the collection of children of God. So, maybe, I do want to be compared to a stone.
Gospel Reading: John 14:1-14
Blanket and Bear, a Remarkable Pair by L. J. R. Kelly
(Written for ages 3-5)
Comment: Everything is about to change for the disciples. They are about to lose the one who has been showing them the way. They are about to be on their own. They are about to be the leaders of a growing movement. And they are scared. As you read the questions the disciples pose to Jesus, you can hear the fear in their voices. Much like toddlers who need a lovey as they explore the world around them, the disciples need something to cling to for comfort. In Blanket and Bear, a Remarkable Pair, a little boy goes everywhere with a blanket and bear, until one day he loses them. The story follows the journey Blanket and Bear take to return to their boy, only to find that he no longer needs them. Jesus offers the disciples and us a lovey of words. The disciples can cling to the words of Jesus as the transition takes place. Loveys are for a time of transition as Blanket, Bear, and the boy come to find out. The disciples will soon learn that they can cling to their belief in God, and Jesus in moments of fear.
This week’s Lectionary Links are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Elizabeth Boulware Landes, Director of Children’s Ministry at Faith Presbyterian Church, Aledo, TX.