Tim Jacobsen, West Des Moines, IA

Warm-up Question

Have you ever tried to make yourself above others? Have you ever felt like you were forced below others?If Everyone Had That…If Everyone Had That…

If Everyone Had That…

Riley loved to spend the night at friends’ houses! When he and his friends were together, they would stay up late playing games, talking about life and relationships, eating food, and just having fun. This group of friends just loved these nights and would look forward to them as they would happen quite often.

There was one friend’s house that Riley loved in particular, Jordan had a great house for sleepovers. Jordan’s parents had many big TVs with sound systems, a pool, hot tub, game room, a huge selection of movies, and games to play. One night over some really good food, Jordan asked Riley when their parents were going to host a party.

Riley’s heart sank and tried to get their mom to say no. But Riley’s mom was so excited to host! In the weeks leading up to when the friend group was going to be over Riley was trying to get their parents to buy a bigger TV and have more things to make a night over even better, like at Jordan’s. Riley’s parents were ok with some additions, but not all of them. As Riley was arguing, Riley’s mom had the most mom comment, “If everyone had the same things and lived the same, we would live in a boring world, wouldn’t we?”. Ugh…not the answer that Riley was hoping for…

Discussion Questions

  • Are there ways you can relate to Riley’s story? Jordan’s?
  • Have you heard the phrase, if everyone had ____ or was the same, the world would be boring? What are your thoughts/feelings?
  • What are some things that need to be more equal in our world? What do you think that would that look like? Do you see any problems?

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

Jeremiah 17:5-10

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Luke 6:17-26

(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

“That’s not fair!”, I would say, and my dad would respond with, “well the fair is in August.”. What a comeback that is, I plan to use that comeback with my own children. It’s just so perfect in so many ways. First off, how many things in our life do we say aren’t fair? Yes, there is the unfairness of a sibling getting the bigger piece of cake or friend getting something better than you. But zoom out and look at the bigger things in our world that don’t seem fair. Yes, these occurrences seem too big for us to fix on our own or do anything about. So, what are we to do?

The task may seem daunting, and in many cases it is. When something seems unfair, we need to remember that there are two sides. One side may feel the situation is fair because they benefit, so why level the playing field so that fairness would prevail? It’s so easy to want all or none, but the real work comes in the task of compromise.

Jesus is talking about just this in a really long (his longest, in fact) sermon. This sermon is called the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, but in Luke this sermon occurs on a level place. We aren’t completely sure where the sermon occurred, but the message still prevails. This is not just a sermon to the haves and have nots which is full of shame for the ones who have.

This is a sermon that addresses emotional and physical realties. Those who are poor, lack food, or weep, will inherit the Kingdom of God, be given food, and have joy. Yet, those who have money, fed, and like, will be poor, hungry, and hated. This seems backwards, and it kind of is. The issue is not having money, food, or being liked. The issue Luke is addressing is a heart issue. Those who have money, food, and joy shouldn’t just keep that to themselves. We are called to share our blessings and gifts with others. 

If we were all the same and had the same way of living, I don’t think the world would be boring. Even with a leveled playing field, we still would live in a broken world. In this world people would still long to hold power over others or have more than others. I encourage you to do as Jesus is saying in Luke:  Look at your heart and ask how you can use what you have (money, time, strength, knowledge) to serve your neighbor.

Discussion Questions

  • How do the “blessed be’s” make you feel? What about the “woe’s”?
  • Can you relate to who Jesus is talking about?
  • This sermon seems so upside down, why is that?
  • Does Jesus’ message still apply today?
  • Upon reflection what needs to change in your heart, or intentions about how you use what you are blessed with?

Activity Suggestions

  • Write Your Own Story: We have our own lens and see different things in our world/community. If you were to write your own sermon on the mount type sermon, what would you say? 
  • Bridge Building: What are some ways that your group can reach out to other communities? As you reach out to these communities, look for what you can learn from them as you build relationships. As you are building relationships, be looking for ways that your group may be able to meet this groups needs. 

Closing Prayer

Good and Gracious God, we thank you for your presence with us and love that you have for us. We ask that you open our eyes to those around us who need to feel your love. Work through us as we go out to be your hands and feet. We have been blessed with much and long for much, help us to be content and willing to share our blessings with others.  Amen