Contributed by Lindean Barnett Christenson, Bozeman, MT


Warm-up Question

How well would you say you can multitask? What are some tasks you frequently do at the same time? What do you find distracting (music, friends, text messages, concerns)?

Pay Attention!

It seems that many people pride themselves on their skills at “multitasking,” doing several things at one time rather than doing them sequentially, one at a time. Research has shown, however, that multitasking simply isn’t possible. When it comes to paying attention, multitasking is a myth, says developmental molecular biologist, Dr. John Medina.

Perhaps that explains why more and more states and cities are strictly limiting, or banning altogether, the use of cell phones and other devices while driving. Statistics show drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is the equivalent, if you’re driving 55 mph, of driving the length of an entire football field without looking at the road.

Many states have state-wide bans on cell phone use while driving. Other states leave it up to individual cities or municipalities to draft and enact their own bans. Missoula, Montana is one such city. A ban on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving was passed by the City Council just over a month ago. The hope is that strict enforcement of the new ban will not only help (force?) people to take the ban seriously, but also increase road safety in the city.


Discussion Questions

  • How often do you talk on the phone or text while driving or performing some other task that would benefit from undivided attention? Have you ever missed out on something because you were distracted?
  • Why do think people who know the dangers of texting while driving still do it?
  • Why is it difficult to postpone communications or entertainment- why is waiting so hard?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, December 2, 1012 (First Sunday of Advent)

 Jeremiah 33:14-16

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Luke 21:25-36

(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.


Gospel Reflection

It’s the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new liturgical year in the church. For the next year, most of the lectionary Gospel readings will come from the Gospel according to Luke. Yet instead of beginning at the beginning of the Gospel, our first reading echoes a parallel reading from just two weeks ago from the Gospel according to Mark. (And for an excellent discussion of the purpose and uses of apocalyptic writing, see Dennis Sepper’s Faith Lens reflections for November 18th).

In our passage from Luke, and the verses that precede it, Jesus teaches the crowds in the temple about the coming of the Son of Man and the arrival of the kingdom of God in all its fullness. The predictive signs are things that always seem to be happening: wars and insurrections (v 9), earthquakes and famines (v 11), the changing of the seasons (v 30). Jesus urges his listeners to be on guard, to be alert, to be paying attention to the world around them. He doesn’t want them to be so distracted by the pleasures or the worries of life that they miss the arrival of the kingdom of God in their midst. He wants them to be prepared for the coming of the Son of Man.

Given that it’s been close to two thousand years since Luke wrote down this account of the Gospel, many Christians today find it difficult to live in constant anticipation of Jesus’ return. And yet Jesus’ words are for us, too: be alert, be on guard, don’t forget to keep the main thing the main thing.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you tend to be distracted more by fun and pleasurable things or by worries and fears?
  • How is life different (or how could/would it be different) when you live each day looking for signs of the kingdom of God? What do you think the kingdom of God is like? What other Bible stories do you know that teach about the kingdom of God?
  • What’s the biggest surprise you’ve ever had? How has your faith, or someone else’s faith, surprised you?
  • Some people seem to be obsessed with figuring out exactly when the world will end, some people live as though the world won’t ever end. Where do you fall along that spectrum? Why?

Activity Suggestions

  • Check out some of the research on multi-tasking at Brain Rules:
  • Use a concordance (online or a printed version – check out your congregation’s library or ask a pastor for one) to look up verses about the kingdom of God/kingdom of heaven and discuss what you find.
  • Make Advent Calendar chains to celebrate the season of Advent and count down the days to Christmas.

Supplies:              25 strips of blue paper for each person in the group.

Pens and pencils

Staplers or tape

Figure out how many Bible verses/activities/prayers each member of your group will need to come up with (if you have 5 participants, each person will come up with 5 activities).

Have each person write each of his/her activities on a strip for each person in the group.

Distribute the strips so each person has one strip for each day of Advent, then use the staplers or tape to make a paper chain out of the strips.

Each day during Advent, participants can take one link off the chain and read the verse/do the activity, etc.

Closing Prayer

O Lord, come. Come into our busy lives and into out distracted minds and hearts. Give us eyes to see the world you love and the coming of your kingdom. Bless us with faith to wait and to trust you in the details and distractions of our everyday lives. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen