Year B: May 24, 2015
First Reading: Acts 2:1-21
Banana! by Ed Verde
(Written for ages 1-4)
Comment: Taking a different look at a familiar passage, used annually in worship on this day, let us look at the uniting power of the Holy Spirit. Rev. David Mosser states, “The day of Pentecost reminds us how we were before God brought us together.” Verses 17-18 illustrate that the Spirit would make it possible for all to prophesy and did so through speaking in tongues, but allowing all people to understand and receive the prophesies in their own language. Prior to the Spirit’s blowing all were gathered but none understood well. God once again accommodated to us in order to unite us. In the picture book Banana!, two monkeys desire a single banana. One has possession and the other wants. When the first gives the second possession, that monkey realizes that it wants the fruit back. It’s not until they come together that they realize that they can share the treat and both be happy with having a portion of the banana. This illustration is simple, but helps all readers and listeners to see that God will unite us and in uniting we are all able to enjoy a portion of the gift of the Spirit; and maybe then go about prophesying about God per the words of Joel through Peter.
Second Reading: Romans 8:22-27
You Can Do it, Bert! by Ole Konnecke
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: The second half of this passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans is about the understanding that God, through the Holy Spirit, provides for us what we need and also what God deems is necessary for the saints. When we don’t have the words for prayer, the Spirit intercedes on our behalf with groans too deep for words. Paul reminds us that the Spirit helps us in our weakness, according to God’s will, for God knows the mind of the Spirit and God’s people. Bert is a bird on a big mission: today he will jump from the tree into the water with the rest of his friends. He’s prepared, but suddenly at the last minute he’s hesitant. His friends call for him, encouraging him to follow through. Finally, after he jumps he realizes that he can do it and goes for another jump along with his friends. Sometimes we, like Bert, need extra encouragement to fulfill our plans. God, who knows our hearts and minds, allows the Spirit to help us and intercede on our behalf.
Gospel Reading: John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15
Willow Finds a Way by Lana Button
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: In Christ’s farewell speech in John, Jesus explains the Advocate. The followers of Christ see the comfort that God provides through Christ’s departure by means of the Spirit as a worker for justice, righteousness, and against sin. We are told that we can’t receive the Spirit if Christ remains, and only in his departure will we gain the comfort of the presence of the Spirit. Willow is a girl who struggles with fitting in and a desire to stand up for what’s right against Kristabelle, a mean girl in class. When Kristabelle hoards an invitation to her very cool birthday party over her classmates, Willow becomes uncomfortable but is unsure how she will stand up to Kristabelle without being left out. As classmates begin to be cut from the invite list, Willow gains courage to show the birthday girl that her behavior is not friendly and must change. Only when Willow sacrifices herself, giving others courage to do so, does Kristabelle realize that her behavior must change, and change it does. The disciples had been intimately involved with Christ, even through death, and were afraid of things changing. God reminds us here that we are not alone and that the Advocate will provide all of the things that Christ could, for the Advocate is of God as well. Kristabelle couldn’t see past being popular to realize that a kinder heart would still allow her to have friends and a fun party, too. Often we need change to realize the presence of God in our lives and in others, which is still just as tangible as if Christ himself were in our midst.
The Lectionary Links this week are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Katie Barrett Todd.