Dave Dodson, Fort Walton Beach, FL

Warm-up Question

Have you ever found out something that you felt morally obligated to share with someone else, even though sharing would be awkward or perhaps a breach of trust and confidentiality.  How did you decide what was right in that circumstance?

Don’t WannaCry

I hope that the name “WannaCry” is unfamiliar to you.  That’s the name of a wicked computer virus currently ransacking computers across the globe.  WannaCry is ransomware.  That means that when it infects your computer, it locks up files that you’ve saved.  In order to get those files back, you’re forced to pay hundreds of dollars to the authors of the virus.  This money has to be paid in an untraceable digital currency called BitCoin, so catching the criminal coders of the virus is very hard.

Don’t worry too much.  If your computer is running an up to date version of Windows, then you’re safe from WannaCry.  However, it almost wasn’t that way.  The National Security Agency (NSA) discovered the flaw that made WannaCry possible earlier this year.  In April the data about that flaw was stolen from the NSA.  The hackers who created WannaCry got their hands on this data and were able to craft a virus that manipulated a problem with Windows.

There’s a discussion  about whether or not the NSA had a responsibility to tell Microsoft about the vulnerability it discovered.  It appears that when the NSA found out about the flaw, it didn’t say anything to Microsoft.  Instead, it chose to hold onto that data, hoping it could use it to write programs that would break into computers used by terrorist organizations and the like.  It’s possible that the NSA could have told Microsoft earlier about the problem, allowing it to fix the vulnerability earlier.  But did it have a moral obligation to do so? Or is the NSA’s mission to fight terrorism and American enemies more important?

Discussion Questions

  • Do you believe that as a government agency, the NSA had a responsibility to share what it had learned with Microsoft?
  • If the NSA’s goal is to protect people, how should it handle difficult decisions like this?

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Acts 1:6-14

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11

John 17:1-11

(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 B at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.


Gospel Reflection

The Gospel of John is different from the other three Gospels, so much so that we call the other three by a unique name.  Together, Matthew, Mark, and Luke make up the Synoptic (from a Greek word meaning “see together”) Gospels.  The synoptics see Jesus in a similar way in the sense that they share many narrative elements and essentially the same chronology.  John, though, is different.  It just doesn’t fit the same mold as the other three.  There is no narrative of Jesus’ birth, for instance, and narrative parables are nowhere to be found.  The Jesus in John’s gospel  just doesn’t seem interested in telling stories.  Instead, there are extended narratives of Jesus’ encounters with others which point to who he is.  Jesus engages in deep conversations and speaks long soliloquies about divine knowledge and revelation.

To John, one of the most amazing things about Jesus’ story is that Jesus, though fully  man, possesses God’s nature and shares deep knowledge out of that divine identity.  As you probably noticed, this week’s passage is all about that sharing of knowledge.  Jesus specifically says about his disciples that “the words that you [the Father] gave to me I have given to them”.  Jesus is the divine revealer of truth and wisdom, and he has done more than teach the disciples.  He has opened their eyes to a truth they could never have reached on their own.

But this knowledge does not come alone.  It comes with a responsibility.  Jesus is explicitly clear about this in the passage following our reading this week.  By being the recipients of the same divine understanding that Jesus received from the Father, the disciples are inheriting Jesus’ mission and ministry.  They are not passive recipients of knowledge – they are recruits!

There is a price to the knowledge we gain about God, but it’s a wonderful price.  When we learn about God, we become a working part of God’s Kingdom, called to take an active role in crafting the Kingdom.  Our hands are called to do the work of God’s hands.  To John, this was obvious.  How could we know about God and not immediately feel the call to action?

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever felt the challenge of a verse or story in the Gospel? Have the words of your pastor or youth leader ever made you feel like you should act in a different or new way?
  • What Gospel messages, if any, are hard for you to understand? For example, many people find some of the parables tough to work through.
  • If you were confused about a Biblical text, how would you go about finding an answer to your questions?

Activity Suggestions

It’s graduation season!  Design a diploma for those who have “graduated” and gained wisdom through God’s word and teachings.  What degree would they hold? What would that diploma say?

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, you are the source of all true wisdom.  You guide us, console us, and teach us, and for this we are always thankful.  We praise you for the protection and peace that comes through our understanding of your Word.  Bless us to continually seek to grow and study your Word and your teachings.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.