Ellen Rothweiller, Des Moines, IA


Warm-up Question

  • How do you prepare for something? For school? For a test? For a big game or music competition?
  • How do you prepare for the unknown? For the future that you know will come, but hasn’t?

Be Prepared…but for what?

We spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about the future, and we all prepare for the unknown in different ways. Some are excited and motivated by the possibility of what the future brings. Others are paralyzed by the fear of the unknown and don’t know how or what to plan for.  As students, as early as sixth grade, you are encouraged to consider what you will do after you graduate high school. Threats and fear are thrown at you about what will happen if you don’t have a plan, are not prepared for the future that will come.

Some seize the opportunity of the unknown and use if for their own personal gain, preying on those who are more cautious and pushing their own hopes and agendas for the future. This can be a relief for those of us who are reluctant to plan; we are glad that someone has a vision and is taking steps to realize it. But, what if this supposed future ends up not to be? What if life happens and the dream is not realized or the vision given to us is not in our best interest? How do we know whose prediction of the unknown future to listen to?

In the Disney movie The Lion King, Scar lays out a hopeful future for the hyenas in the song “Be Prepared”

If you have seen the film, you know that the temporary rise to power of Scar and the hyenas is short-lived. Scar’s dream of being king  ends in death and disappointment. Simba, who is the heir to the throne, becomes a pawn in Scar’s plan and in the process denies his own future. In this story, and in many stories, a plan is not enough but a lack of planning does not always pan out either.

Discussion Questions

  • Are you excited by or afraid of what the future brings?
  • Are you a planner or a wait and see type of person?
  • Whose advice do you listen to when attempting to plan for the future?
  • How do you know when that advice is not right for you and your life?

First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 64:1-9

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Mark 13:24-37

(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

In  Matthew 13:32-37, we read about the importance of being watchful and keeping awake. It also says that we do not know when Jesus, the Son of Man will come: only the Father knows when that day will come. Verses 24-27 speak of a darkened moon, falling stars and the powers and the heavens being shaken as a part of this coming. This is some serious stuff, mysterious and scary! Some Christians would link this passage with the “end times”, giving a check list of ways to secure your salvation as a way of preparing for these things.

As Lutherans we believe that in the death and resurrection of Christ our salvation is secure so there is nothing that we need to do, no check list of things to complete. So with this confidence, how do we heed this word of watchfulness and “keep awake”, and yet not let our fear of the unknown overcome us? As Simba learned in The Lion King, we cannot avoid or run from who we are, and who we are as Christians is baptized Children of God called to new life in Christ, freed from sin to love and serve others. So, perhaps the way that we as Christians can be prepared is to live and love freely. That can be the plan that we can count on and the plan that succeeds when all other plans fail.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you feel that your faith prepares you for the future? How?
  • Have you ever heard Christians speak of “end times”? What did they say?

Activity Suggestions

Do a Google search for “end times” and see what other religious organizations have to say about how you can prepare for this. Consider how this compares to our Lutheran approach to this subject. Invite you Pastor to be a part of this conversation.

Closing Prayer

O Lord, in life we have many pressures to plan ahead and be ready for the future. Sometimes we fail. We forget things, we fail to do things, and we miss opportunities. Sometimes we plan and then life happens and things do not turn out how we planned. Give us the courage to remember who we are in you in the midst of all the pressure and planning. Give us peace. Amen.