YEAR B: September 27, 2015
First Reading: Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts
(Written for ages 3-5)
Comment: Haman tricked King Ahasuerus into signing a decree to destroy the Jewish people of his kingdom. His queen, Esther, is Jewish, and afraid for her people and afraid for her own life. But she courageously speaks out against Haman’s plot, even though it means challenging the king. Esther is brave and speaks out when she sees something wrong, and she convinces the king who grants her petition. Esther helps save the Jewish people by speaking out and being brave, and their sorrow is turned into gladness. In The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade, Sally McCabe notices everything, including the way her classmates bully one another. But they ignore her, because she is the smallest girl in the smallest grade. But one day, after she has watched yet more bullying, Sally has enough. She sticks her hand in the air and speaks out, demanding that they treat each other better. Her voice sparks a revolution at her school, with her classmates and teachers and the principal joining in. Sally’s courage to speak out, though she is the smallest girl in the smallest grade, transforms her school from a place of bullying to a place of support and kindness. Esther and Sally both spoke up on behalf of other people, and changed bad situations to good.
Second Reading: James 5:13-20
A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead
(Written for ages 3-8)
Comment: For James, every part of life is intricately tied to our faith. As a church, we have work to do and the work we do impacts one another. The way we respond to each other’s needs, suffering, and struggles has a greater impact that we realize. As people of faith, we attend to each other offering prayer, anointing, encouragement, and whatever else may be needed. In A Home for Bird, Vernon the frog discovers a new friend, Bird. But Bird never speaks. At first Frog believes that Bird is just a very good listener, but over time thinks that Bird is missing his home. So he embarks on an adventure to help Bird find his home, and knows that when they find the right place, Bird will let him know. They eventually travel to a house containing a cuckoo clock, but missing its bird. Vernon discovers that this is exactly the right place for Bird, when Bird finally speaks, saying “Cuckoo!”. Vernon may not have realized what kind of Bird his friend was, but he was determined to help him, and spent time and energy doing it. Because Bird was his friend, he was committed to him, and responded to his needs. James exhorts the church to display the same responsiveness, commitment, and determination to other peoples’s needs and struggles, as people of faith.
Gospel Reading: Mark 9:38-50
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
(Written for ages 3-6)
Comment: Jesus offers a hard, but important, teaching here. Jesus speaks of cutting off hands and feet if they are leading you astray and preventing you from wholly entering the kingdom of God. The larger implication is that some things may need to be removed in order to be our best as God’s people. Sometimes we need to get rid of something that causes us to stumble, so that we may confidently enter God’s kingdom with sure footing. Sometimes it is for the best to let something go. In Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Mr. Tiger has lived in his prim and proper village with his prim and proper clothes for too long. He gets rid of his top hat and suit and runs wild! Eventually, he does realize that he misses his friends and his city, but doesn’t want to go back to his old ways. But when he returns to the city, he sees that his friends have loosened up, too, and they all discover that letting go of some of their behaviors and clothes makes them happier. Mr. Tiger let go, and was better for it, and Jesus reminds the disciples, and us, that for the kingdom of God, we may have to let some things go.
Thanks to Sara Anne Berger, pastor of the Whitmire Presbyterian Church, Whitmire, SC, for writing the Lectionary Links for the past four weeks! We look forward to hearing from her again later this year.