Contributed by Paul Baglyos, St. Paul, MN
Whose are you? Who are yours?
Lesson Before Dying
Lt. Col. Mark Weber lives with his wife and their three sons near the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Recently, Lt. Col. Weber published a book called Tell My Sons, which is a collection of personal stories and life lessons that he wanted to pass on to his sons before he dies from the intestinal cancer with which he was diagnosed in 2010. In a newspaper interview and on a YouTube video, Lt. Col. Weber has talked about his reasons for writing the book. Watch the news video and/or read the news article and consider the following discussion questions.
- How do you think being a father helps Lt. Col. Weber to face his illness and impending death with courage, humor and hope?
- Do you think it’s a good idea for Lt. Col. Weber and his wife to discuss his terminal illness openly with their sons? Why or why not?
- What do you think is the most difficult and painful aspect of this story?
- What do you think is the most hopeful and inspiring aspect of this story?
Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, April 28, 2013 (Fifth Sunday of Easter)
(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.
Here Jesus is speaking to his disciples shortly before his arrest and crucifixion. The “he” at the very beginning of verse 31 (“When he had gone out . . .”) refers to Judas Iscariot, who has just left the supper table in order to betray Jesus to those who wanted to arrest him. Jesus speaks about his impending suffering and death as his being “glorified.” This might seem odd to us because there is nothing “glorious” about the humiliation and agony Jesus is about to face. Jesus makes it clear, however, that he is not glorifying his impending death but rather glorifying God to whom his entire life is devoted. Not even the certainty of his own death dissuades Jesus from his devotion to God. Jesus testifies that his life belongs entirely to God and not to the power of death; death cannot extinguish his life, even though it will take him away from his disciples to where they “cannot come” (verse 33).
Jesus calls his disciples to share his life of devotion to God through their love for one another. His glory becomes also their glory when they love one another just as he has loved them. Love is the sacred purpose of human life in the image of God; love is the power of God that overcomes all suffering and death that afflict human life. There is nothing glorious about suffering and death, but there is glory – God’s glory – in life lived in love for others even in the face of suffering and death. To live in love for others even in the face of death is to share Christ’s victory over the power of death. Our lives, after all, do not belong to us alone but to God who has created us to love one another, and to love all others, as God in Christ loves us.
- How does the story of Lt. Col. Weber provide an example of what Jesus calls us to, loving others even in the face of death?
- What do you think Jesus means by loving one another “just as I have loved you”?
- Who do you love just as Jesus loves you? Who loves you just as Jesus loves you? Whose love do you count on each day? Who counts on your love each day?
Within a group discussion share one example of how, in the past week, you have loved another person as Jesus loves you, or how someone else has loved you as Jesus loves you. If you can’t think of a good example from the past week, try to anticipate a good example that might occur in the coming week. Discuss how love for others can be a defiance of the power of death.
Individually, write an intention to love another person as Jesus loves you. Using the closing prayer below, pray as a group that each of you might be able to fulfill the intentions you have written. Keep your intention with you throughout the coming week for your own personal prayer and as your own personal reminder to love that other person as Jesus loves you.
Pray together the prayer attributed to Francis of Assisi on page 87 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship or page 48 in the Lutheran Book of Worship. If you do not have access to ELW or the LBW, you can find the text on the internet.