Year B: May 3, 2015
First Reading: Acts 8:26-40
Yoshiko and the Foreigner by Mimi Otey Little
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: In this text, Philip talks with a foreigner, an Ethiopian eunuch, who welcomes Philip into his chariot. After the Ethiopian asks for Philip’s guidance to help him understand scripture, he is eager to be baptized. By baptizing him, Philip welcomes him into the family of God. Much like Philip is urged by the Spirit to go to the Ethiopian, Yoshiko experiences an urge to help Flem, even though he is a foreigner and good Japanese girls don’t talk to foreigners. Yoshikp helps Flem and over time teaches him the customs of her family. Eventually Yoshiko and Flem become family to one another. This text and story invite us to reflect on the ways we interact with people who are different from us, to consider what we can learn from one another, and to recognize the stranger as a part of our larger family.
Second Reading: 1 John 4:7-21
I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us… There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” This text is a wonderful opportunity to explore God’s love for us, a love that remains even when we fear we are unloveable. A number of children’s books explore the idea of a parent’s love in this way. I Love You Stinky Face is the story of a child asking their mother if she would still love them if they were no longer a beautiful child. Mama’s love stands firm, through apes, skunks, meat eating dinosaurs, and more! The first time I read this in my congregation, a particularly wild child settled as the story ended and said, “That’s beautiful!” Fear of not being lovable can paralyze us, but knowing that we are loved frees us to love others.
Gospel Reading: John 15:1-8
The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen
(Written for ages 5-9)
Comment: “He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” Though these actions might sound harsh, in clearing and pruning the vine, God is creating the best circumstances for it to grow and flourish. As Poppa and Theo create an imaginary garden, we see the care, joy, and time that goes into making a garden thrive (even an imaginary garden!). Through this text and story we are reminded that love and commitment that are required to help plants grow. That is a love and commitment God also has for us, along with a desire that we will be fruitful! Wonder together with the children of your church about what it means for us to be a fruitful plant or garden.
The Lectionary Links this week are written by Noell Rathbun-Cook, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna and Minister of Children and Youth Discipleship at Grace Baptist Church, Richmond, VA.