Contributed by Jen Krausz, Bethlehem, PA


Warm-up Question

Have you ever given something you really wanted to someone else? If so, how did that feel, or what happened? If not, how hard do you think it would be to give your most prized possession to someone else?

Mountaintop Sacrifice

shutterstock_115079431editWhen Lanny Barnes, 31, got sick with a bad cold on the weekend of the Olympic trials for the U.S. biathlon team in Italy, she couldn’t compete in all the selection races and didn’t qualify to make the Olympic team. Her sister, Tracy Barnes, did qualify to make the team. What happened next was a rare act of selflessness and love.

Tracy Barnes decided to give up her spot on the Olympic team to her sister, Lanny.

The twins had trained together, competed together and against each other, and both had dreams of being 2014 Olympic athletes, as they had both done in 2006, and Lanny had done again in 2010. Because of their ages, this Olympics is likely their last chance to compete.

Why did Tracy decide to give up her spot? She felt Lanny deserved the position more. “She had a stellar year,” she said of sister. “She just had a bit of bad luck getting sick. I would have loved the opportunity to represent my country but it meant more to me to give Lanny that chance. I think she’ll do great things.”

Lanny was reluctant to accept her sister’s sacrifice, but finally gave in to Tracy’s insistent wishes. “It shows if you care enough about someone, you’re willing to sacrifice everything,” Lanny said. “This is her dream, what she’s been talking about her entire life. It shows true Olympic spirit.”

Lanny is using her sister’s selfless action to motivate her even further. “It inspires me to push that much more, not only just for my country but for her as well.”

 Discussion Questions

  • Olympic athletes train for many years and dedicate the majority of their lives to their sport. Knowing this, do you think you would be able to give up your last chance to make the Olympics to someone else? Why or why not?
  • How would you feel if someone gave up their dream so that you could have yours? Would it be difficult to accept such a sacrifice?
  • How do you think it feels to win a medal in the Olympics? How long would you want to honor or remember such an accomplishment?
  • What excites or interests you most about the Olympics?


Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, March 2,2014

(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.

 Exodus 24:12-18

2 Peter 1:16-21

Matthew 17:1-9


Gospel Reflection

This text is referred to as The Transfiguration because of how Jesus’ appearance was changed, or transfigured. It was almost like the apostles who were with him got to see a bit of his heavenly glory. Obviously, the apostles were extremely impressed by this experience. It was an exhilarating, mountaintop moment. It may even be the event from which the term “mountaintop experience” originated. To see Jesus with Moses and Elijah, two giants of their history as Israelites, was deeply meaningful, something they never wanted to forget.

The apostles with Jesus want to build a shrine or a monument to him. As we often are tempted to do, they wanted to bask in the moment, to stay right there and celebrate this wonderful spiritual high. No doubt they felt special to be among only a few chosen to see this glorious event.

But as God often does, he interrupts their plans. He thunderously tells them where their focus should be: on following his son, Jesus. How terrifying that must have been for the apostles! So much so that Jesus has to console them when it’s all over. Then, instead of building a monument, they are cautioned to “tell no one.” They probably felt humbled and reminded of their humanity by the stern order of first God, and then Jesus.

I’m convinced that God never gives us a mountaintop experience just for its own sake. No, these experiences are always meant to move us to action, to inspire us to grow in our faith and share that faith with others. Following Jesus is never about staying in one place and honoring him. Rather, it’s about being his hands and feet to the needy people of the world and offering good news about forgiveness of sins that comes through him alone.

Discussion Questions


  • What experiences have you had that you would like to hold on to or remember?
  • What is your most intense experience of God’s presence in your life, up to this point? How did you respond to it at the time?
  • How have positive faith experiences inspired you to be Jesus’ hands and feet?
  • How can you tell your story and inspire others to follow Jesus?

Activity Suggestions

Take a few minutes to write out the story of your most intense experience of God. With your leader’s help, compile the stories and make a booklet of experiences. Share the booklet with others in your church and maybe even with visitors or new members.

Closing Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for revealing yourself to us in so many ways in our lives. Help us to use these experiences to follow you more closely as we have opportunities in our lives. May all the glory and honor be yours, Amen.