Anne Williams, Ankeny, IA

Warm-up Questions

  • In a world with Instagram, selfie sticks and duck lips, how often do you take selfies? How often do you like someone else’s selfie?
  • Have you ever thought about why you take a selfie and post it on social media? Are there times when you should or should not post a selfie?

Do You Need to See it to Believe it?

At the end of March both Coachella and Lollapalooza announced that they were banning selfie sticks as reported by NME, the music news site. Both Coachella and Lollapalooza are big-deal music festivals. Coachella happens in California in April. Lollapalooza takes place in Chicago at the end of July into August.


These two events are just the latest in a growing list of places and events that ban selfie sticks (or as the Coachella website says: “selfie sticks/narcissists”). Buzzfeed reports that the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, the Coliseum in Rome, and the Palace of Versailles in France have all banned visitors from using selfie sticks (also called monopods, camera extension poles, narcisticks, and a number of other names). In England a number of music venues have also banned the use of selfie sticks.

While organizers acknowledge that taking pictures is a part of the live music experience, they want to discourage anything that would block others views, according to the NME article. The Coachella website lists selfie sticks as one the things which are not allowed, lumping them with fireworks, knives, chains, drones, laser pointers, Hula Hoops, and explosives.

People want to take pictures of the things they are doing. They want to share those pictures with their friends and followers on social media. Selfie sticks produce great pictures. On the flip side, you’ve got about three feet of possible hazard and traffic jam that makes getting around selfie-takers a pain.


Discussion Questions

  • Iis using a selfie stick a sign of a big ego – narcissism, or is it a way to get a great pic?
  • Do the pictures posted on social media tell us more about what our friends are doing than text posts?
  • Do you need to see it to believe it?

Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:32-35

1 John 1:1-2:2

John 20:19-31 

(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 B at Lectionary Readings

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


Gospel Reflection


The week after Easter, we meet Thomas, who didn’t witness the miraculous events of the Resurrection first hand. He got the message but told the messengers that he would have to literally touch Jesus before he believed that he had been raised from the dead. He would have to see it to believe it. Jesus calls him out for it too, asking “Have you believed because you have seen me?”

What would Thomas have said had he had the chance to respond to this question? “I wanted to believe so much, but I was just so afraid to hope!” Or “Look Jesus, you died. What was I supposed to believe?” We don’t know why Thomas didn’t believe.

We don’t know why Thomas had to see it to believe it.  In some ways, it doesn’t really matter because Jesus doesn’t give Thomas a chance to respond and gives us a not-quite beatitude: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” For those of us who live as Christians two thousand years after Jesus’ life and ministry, this not-quite beatitude could be considered a great consolation.  We don’t get to meet Jesus face to face, so our belief without sight should keep us close to him right? Could it be that we turn too quickly to rely on this not-quite beatitude.

Do we look hard enough to see Jesus in the people we meet? Do we search for Jesus in our world and in the troubles we encounter? Do we expect to find Jesus in new places and situations we find ourselves in? What if we were all a little more like Thomas? What if we were a little thirstier to see the face of Christ all around us, to touch Christ when we hug a friend in need or to feed Christ when we serve the hungry? Would we believe it more if we saw it more? Maybe a better question:, Would we see it more if we believed?

When it comes right down to it, if we say that Jesus is in those we serve and those we meet, like in Matthew 25, maybe being a little more like Thomas – a little more see it to believe it, would serve us well.

Discussion Questions

  • What would you guess Thomas was feeling in the aftermath of the terror of Good Friday and the miracle of the Resurrection?
  • Can you relate to Thomas? Do you need to see something to believe it or are you more willing to take someone’s word for it?
  • Have you ever seen the face of Jesus in the face of someone in need or someone you have served?
  • How can you learn to see the face of Jesus among your friends and family and the people you meet everyday?

Activity Suggestions

  • Prepare this one in advance: get a bunch of photos together where it’s hard to figure out what exactly is going on without a description (or if you have it, use something like Every Picture Tells a Story by Youth Specialties). Spread the photos out around your space and ask students to individually or in pairs come up with an explanation of what’s happening in each photo. Compare notes amongst the group. Ask questions like, “How did you arrive at your story or explanation for what’s happening?”
  • Have the group take selfies. Take a long look at them together as a group. Discuss the following questions: Can you tell where you are? Would people know you are at church? Among Christians? Why don’t selfies tell the whole story?

Closing Prayer

Loving and gracious God, you have given us eyes to see. Help us to see you in our families, in our friends, in those we serve. Help us to be models of seeing and doing and being is believing – of being able to find you at work in our world. Moving and Powerful God, help us to be those who are doing your work in the world so that others might see and come to believe, while always reminding us it’s about you and not us!  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.