Scott Moore, Erfurt, Germany

Warm-up Question

How can you tell when someone is authentic or real? 

Preparing the Way for Non-Fake News

What do a lab in Sheffield, England, villages in Zimbabwe and Madagascar, and a start up in Bangkok, Thailand all have in common? If you said eating insects, then you were correct. In order to combat malnutrition, scientists in England are developing better ways to raise a protein and fat rich grub worm which is a delicacy in Zimbabwe. In Madagascar, there have been successful attempts to grow a bean plant which is the natural food source for the sakondry,  a small hopping insect, considered a tasty snack by the locals (they say when fried it tastes like bacon). The villages which have started growing and harvesting sakondry have reduced the hunting of the endangered local lemur. In Bangkok, Exofood labs has seen immense growth in the sale and consumption of various types of insects. They are hoping to meet this growing need. 

Throughout time, insects have been a part of the diet of many different cultures. High in protein, they require much fewer resources (such as water) to produce than animal sources.  Insects are seen as a future answer to the ecological difficulties posed by the various industries geared to meat production. Even in the Western Northern hemisphere, more and more stores offer products made from insects and worms. Time will tell if more people will choose a grub salad over chicken or a locust burger over beef. 

Discussion Questions

  • When have you accidentally eaten an insect?
  • When have you eaten an insect on purpose?
  • What do you imagine it is like eating insects such as grasshoppers or grubs you see eaten on reality tv shows?
  • Would you ever consider eating insects as a regular part of your diet?
  • Which insects would you like to try first?

Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 40:1-11

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Mark 1:1-8

(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 Mark wastes no time getting to the point. There are no angels, no shepherds, no Magi from the East. No description  of Jesus’ family tree or stories of his birth. For Mark, none of those stories are important. They are just backstory. “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the son of God.” There it is—plain and simple. 

Yet before Jesus makes his first appearance, we hearers are prepared for this holy story, just as were the people back then. We experience John before we experience Jesus. Mark gives us  a narrative filter through which we can understand what is to come.  A trustworthy source, the prophet Isaiah, lets us know that a messenger will be sent to prepare the way. 

John calls his hearers to turn their lives around and look to the one who is to come. However, John seems  to be a bit of a weirdo. Out in the desert, wearing camel hair and eating wild honey and locusts. These locusts aren’t just some kind meal which shows that John is  somewhat out there. No, locusts are insects which, according to Jewish kosher laws, are ok to eat. John is keeping kosher. He is an observant Jew. He is authentic. He is legitimate. This messenger is the real deal—nothing fake about him. And, if John is the real deal, then he can be trusted. His witness inspires lots of people from all around to come and make a new start, confessing their sins. 

John could have let things stop right there for all those who came to be baptized, but he doesn’t. John takes all the attention he gets and points to Jesus. “There is one more powerful coming. I am not even worthy to tie his sandals. He will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” John’s honest and authentic witness, legitimized by his way of life (including his bug eating), helps us to trust that the news about Jesus is real and good and even really good. 

It is often that way with us in our lives. When we know someone in our family or circle of friends is honest, someone with integrity, we are willing to trust them. If we trust them in small things, we will likely trust them in big matters. We can all think of people we trust because of the solid and consistent lives they lead. We listen differently when they speak. 

Others listen to us differently when they know we are honest and trustworthy. Maybe they trust our recommendations about a book, a movie, or the best way to do the homework assignment. Maybe, just maybe, because people see how we treat others and how we face difficult situations in our lives, they look up to us. Then we have to point beyond ourselves to one who loves us and gives us strength. 

Discussion Questions

  • When did you last follow someone else’s recommendation?
  • When have you been inspired to act more positively because of someone else in your life?
  • Who has been an important example in your faith life? When were they a good influence?
  • What good things in your life could you point to God/Jesus and say that that is the reason for it?
  • When have you intentionally said or done something that pointed someone else to Jesus/God?

Activity Suggestions

  • “Snack Time” with John the Baptist–These days, local stores as well as online sources offer a variety of edible insects, even locusts. Perhaps, you could get a “little closer” to the John in this gospel text and try some locusts and wild honey. 
  • Discuss  the song ,“Waiting for the Son”  (on Free Parking by Spirit Garage Bands (CD 2001) on iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud).

Closing Prayer

O God of forgiveness and new starts in life, sometimes we find ourselves walking in a direction that seems further and further from you. Call out to us. Send messengers to us so that with their help we can find our way back to you. Help us to find ways to also be an authentic guide for others who have lost their way. We ask this in the name of the one who is truly good news, Jesus Christ. Amen.