Contributed by Jocelyn Breeland, Fairfax, VA
Are you a reasonable person? Is that an asset?
Daniel Epstein is an unreasonable man. A self-proclaimed “impatient optimist” and founder of the Unreasonable Institute, Epstein believes entrepreneurship is the key to solving the world’s great problems and his organization is committed to supporting the entrepreneurs who are tackling our most impossible challenges.
For example, the team behind Artificial Vision for the Blind, have invented a way for people without sight – even without eyes – to learn to see using cameras mounted on glasses and a sensory pad that converts signals from the visual cortex into physical sensations. Individuals outfitted with this apparatus have been able to describe their surroundings, even read books.
The Unreasonable Institute supports innovators by giving them advice and help in raising capital so they can bring their ideas to the world. To date, the Unreasonable Institute has helped 70 teams in 36 nations, and they continue to attract new innovators every year.
The Unreasonable Institute gets its name from a quote by George Bernard Shaw, who said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” Thanks to the Institute, unreasonable men and women all over the world have some help in changing the world for the better.
- Can you name a historical figure who succeeded by being unreasonable? (For example, you might say that Christopher Columbus was unreasonable in believing he could sail around the world to India or that Abraham Lincoln was unreasonable to think he could free the slaves without destroying the Union.)
- In the instance you named, what do you think contributed to the success of the unreasonable idea?
- Think of a problem in your congregation, your community, or the world. How could you address that problem? Be unreasonable.
Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, December 23, 2012 (Fourth Sunday of Advent)
(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.
Today’s Gospel highlights a very improbable situation. We have Elizabeth, elderly and barren but carrying a child, and Mary, a virgin, also pregnant.
It might be a challenge for us to relate to the details of this scene. None of us is likely to be in the exact situation as Elizabeth or Mary. But we are similar in this way: Like these two women, we all have received gifts from God, and we each have a special purpose to do his will.
Although we are unlikely to ever be in the presence of the unborn Jesus, we do see and feel the presence of Christ in our lives every day. Through Bible study and prayer, we can come to know God better, and more easily recognize his constant presence among us.
Like John in the womb, God has given us souls attuned to his presence. If we can understand our world through the eyes of faith, as Mary and Elizabeth did, then we too will leap for joy, like John, in the presence of our Messiah.
- How does Elizabeth know that Mary is “the mother of my Lord”?
- Explain the blessings Elizabeth proclaims in verses 42 and 45.
- What does Mary mean in verse 46 when she says her “soul magnifies the Lord”?
- Does your soul also magnify the Lord? How so?
Write your own Magnificat:
Luke 1:46-55 form a poem (sometimes sung) known as the Magnificat (translated: my soul magnifies). In it, Mary praises God for his blessing to her, and his many great acts on behalf of his people.
- To write your own, start with a simple expression of praise and thanksgiving for something God has done in your life. Tell what this means to you.
- Next, list the qualities of God’s actions towards you (mercy, power, wisdom, compassion, etc.).
- Finally, list some (at least three or four) of the other ways God has shown his presence to you, your friends and family, and your community.
- Share your work with the others in the group.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the many ways, great and small, that you show yourself to us every day. We are comforted by your presence, and emboldened to live fully the lives you have planned for us. Teach us to know and accept your will, and let our souls leap for joy to have you near. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.