Emily Edenfield, Irmo, SC

Warm-up Questions

  • Who do you consider to be an enemy? 
  • For whom do you usually pray?

Across the Divides

Open any news website and you’ll see a world divided into groups. Some people have what they need and others don’t. There are wars and political parties. Some live in cities while others are in the country. There are generational, racial, and religious divides. 

Some divides are natural.  Some are made or exaggerated by those who use conflict to gain power or money. In an election season, we see parties and candidates sharpening the divides among voters, trying to gain as much support as they can for their cause. 

I’ve lived in both cities and in the country–and in a few different states. There are commonalities among people everywhere I’ve lived. Most people want the best for themselves, their families, and the world.  But we disagree on what that looks like and how we can bring it about. 

Discussion Questions

  • What different groups do you experience in your life? 
  • Where do you see people agreeing, despite other differences?
  • What is worth disagreeing about? 
  • What is worth dividing a group over?

All Saints Sunday

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18

Ephesians 1:11-23

Luke 6:20-31

(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

One of the hardest things that Jesus teaches about is the change that God’s kingdom brings about in this world. The ones who seem blessed will have a downturn. The ones who seem distressed will have good things come their way. And the ones that we least want to deal with are the same people that we’re supposed to pray for. 

The Beatitudes is one name for Jesus’ teaching about what it means to be blessed. In Luke, the Beatitudes are like a roller coaster ride: what goes up must come down and what goes down is bound to come back up. We don’t need to be too worried about where we are now, because we know that God is with us on every hillside and valley of the ride.

God knows that this world isn’t the way God made it to be. God loves all people and wants us to care for each other. And yet, we are divided in a hundred ways.  Sometimes it’s by culture or distance, sometimes by our own choice—or someone else’s choice to separate from us. Jesus calls us to resist efforts to divide us and  care for one another across the divides.

Discussion Questions

  • When in your life has something bad led to something good?
  • How did God work through or around the bad thing? 
  • What did you learn from the situation?
  • Have you ever had an enemy? How did that happen? What did you do about it?
  • Resilience is the trait we develop by overcoming challenges. How does our faith in God help us be resilient?

Activity Suggestions

  • Play a game where participants are divided up by different categories. Have everyone who likes sweets move to one side of the room and everyone who likes salty snacks move to the other. Or people with brothers and people with sisters move to opposite sides. See if you can find a category where everyone agrees. (People who are baptized, people who go to a certain church or school, people who like/don’t like the communion wine…)
  • Brainstorm together times when we might expect change to be right around the corner. (Graduation, moves, breakups/new relationships…) How does our faith help ground us when everything seems up in the air?

Closing Prayer

God, you made all people in your image. Help us to see our common places with other people and to know that you are always with us. Amen.