Year B: May 31, 2015
First Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8
How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad? by Jane Yolen
(Written for ages 3 -5)
Comment: In this familiar call story of the prophet, God is calling the believer to become attuned to God’s voice. Isaiah’s encounter with God shows that there is no way for a person to know God without being changed. This passage shares that God is calling the believer to: an increased awareness of God’s presence in life, become convicted of and confess sins, receive forgiveness that God offers, and surrender to God’s direction on the believer’s life. Isaiah experiences all of this in eight short verses. In the book How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad?, the reader sees that these dinosaurs are much like each of us in our feelings and choices about how to deal with our feelings. When we get mad there are many ways that we can express our anger and frustration, but the dinosaurs in the book show us other choices. Some of them take a time out, some of them take deep breaths, and some of them count to ten, but all of them do it in order to calm down. Like the dinosaurs, we each are presented with choices in our lives and how we respond to the choices speaks to our character. When mad, the dinosaur is a scary character, but when he or she calms down, her personality is much more likeable. The choice is ours to accept the change that God offers in calling us to God’s service, but once we encounter God, our character will be changed.
Second Reading: Romans 8:12-17
The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
(Written for ages 7 – 9)
Comment: Verses 12, 15 and 16 point out our relationship to God via the relationships of the Trinity in this Romans passage, but it also sets up Paul’s understanding that everyone has a need to belong and God provides that place. As children of God by the Spirit and therefore siblings of Christ, we are drawn into the family of God to inherit both Christ’s suffering and glory. Clayton Schmit says, “Everyone needs to know where they belong. Jesus, who knew no permanent home, surrounded himself with people he felt at home with.” Chris Van Allsburg illustrates a sense of belonging and being drawn into a family in The Stranger. When Farmer Bailey runs over a man on his way home one day, the family takes him in until the man is well enough to head back on his way. Over time, the man regains health and becomes comfortable with his host family, enough so that he stays through the harvest. When the stranger realizes he must leave, the seasons, which have changed everywhere except on the Bailey farm, begin to change as well. The reader learns that each year, when the summer turns to fall everywhere, it lasts a bit longer on the Bailey farm thanks to the visit of The Stranger that one year. The Spirit binds us to God’s family and stays with us so that we may know to whom and where we will always belong.
Gospel Reading: John 3:1-17
Jack by Tomie dePaola
(Written for ages 3 – 5)
Comment: Jack is a story of a boy who sets out to find a home in the city to make a better life. As he sets out on his journey he collects a wealth of various animals. Surprised and excited by his new pals, Jack continues on his way to the city with his merry bunch in search of something new and grand. Jack accumulates piece by piece and ultimately enjoys a merry home in the center of the kingdom, thus bringing transformation to the home, the people, the animals and himself. This story illustrates many pieces of the well known Nicodemus pericope and John 3:16 verse. Like Jack, God’s very nature is the be in relationship with all. Like Nicodemus, Jack picks up bits and pieces of the whole, but doesn’t realize the wealth he’s to receive until it’s presented. And like the animals sought Jack, God searches for us to complete the revelation of God’s relational nature. In the end, Jack is gifted a new home by the king and brings about change to the kingdom with his cluster of animal friends in his home. John 3:1-17 tells us that only God can gift us a totally new life and being in the world.
The Lectionary Links this week are written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Katie Barrett Todd. Katie is also Associate University Minister at Nebraska Wesleyan University.