th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year B, September 30, 2012
First Reading: Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22
The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale retold by Eric A. Kimmel
(Written for ages 5-8)
Comment: This is the only time in the three-year cycle that Esther appears in the Lectionary. Esther’s story might not be familiar to a majority of children and adults in the congregation, and the selected verses only give a glimpse into everything that is happening. Eric Kimmel does a nice job in retelling Esther’s story in his book The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale. In retelling Esther’s story, a Kimmel honors the Biblical story as he seeks to share Esther with children. Kimmel does not gloss over the parts of violence, but also does not exaggerate or focus upon them. The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale is great book to introduce Esther’s story to any who are unfamiliar with it and to remind those who are familiar of the complexity of Esther’s story.
Second Reading: James 5:13-20
Does God Hear My Prayer? by August Gold
(Written for ages 3-7)
Comment: Does God hear my prayer? is a question asked by children and adults alike throughout the faith journey. The reading from James highlights the importance of prayer and types of prayers as he encourages Christians to pray for and with one another. Prayer in James holds the community together. It allows God’s wisdom to fill the community. August Gold highlights for children what prayer involves. Gold acknowledges that sometimes we pray for things that we don’t get, like a new bike. Gold goes on to show ways in which we pray that allow us to open ourselves to God, and then teaches children they must pause and listen for God. Gold provides a summary sentence towards the end of the book which can be a simple reminder for all to hear. “So prayer isn’t telling God what to do – it is letting God help you remember what’s true.” What is true is that God hears us when we pray, and that all are able to pray.
Gospel Reading: Mark 9:38- 50
Yakov and the Seven Thieves by Madonna
(Written for ages 7 and up)
Comment: Learning how to be a part of a group while also welcoming new people in is a task that is difficult to learn. Mark presents the disciples struggling with this task. There are some people who are doing things in the name of Jesus, but because they are not part of the disciples they need to stop, according to the disciples. Yakov’s only son is sick in Yakov and the Seven Thieves and he goes to the wise old man who can speak to angels asking for a miracle. The wise old man prays but is unable pass the gates of heaven. The next night, the wise old man sends his grandson into the city to find all the people who are excluded from society, the thieves, pickpockets and criminals. These seven individuals who gathered in the house begin to pray after hearing the story of Yakov’s son and people are changed. When we welcome in those who have been out cast miracles happen, sometimes in the least likely places. As the program year is getting into full swing in churches, there are probably some new faces among the children and this scripture passage and children’s books are good reminders to look beyond what we see and welcome all into the group.
We are grateful for the Links that Union Presbyterian Seminary graduate Elizabeth Boulware Landes has contributed to the children’s literature blog over the past 9 weeks. This is her last Lectionary Links post and we thank her for her commitment, enthusiasm and creativity. Regular contributor Noell Rathbun-Cook, fresh off a vacation to Ireland and Taize, will be returning here next week.