Contributed by Daniel Wiessner, Tacoma, Wash.

Warm-up Question

Have you ever done something that you knew was dangerous?  Why did you do it?  Some possibilities: peer pressure, standing up for a friend, pride in your own accomplishments, just for the thrill.

Accepting the Challenge

A number of sports carry hazards. (Football comes to mind.) This year’s Winter Olympics reminds us of the inherent dangers of a person traveling at 90 miles per hour. The luge track at the Whistler Sliding Center, in British Columbia, was touted as the fastest course around, but speed and a small misstep in practice proved fatal for Georgian Olympian, Nodar Kumaritashvili.

While the only other luge-related death in the Olympics was way back in 1964, Kumaritashvili’s death has raised the more general issue of athletes’ safety in professional sport competitions such as the Olympics.

Kumaritashvili had apparently expressed concerns about the safety of this particular track, but he, like his fellow sliders, took on the risk. In the same way, we all accept challenges which pose some sort of danger, be it social, emotional, or even the possibility of physical harm. Even with the risk, the goal of succeeding in our ventures drives our ambition to go for the gold.

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Discussion Questions

  1. Do you know anyone who has ever been hurt in a sport? Do you think the growing intensity of sports today makes them too dangerous?
  2. If the chances of serious injury (or even death!) from participating in your favorite leisure time activity increased 5%, would you still do it? 15%? 40%?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, February 28, 2010 (Second Sunday of Lent)

(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.

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Luke 13:31-35

Gospel Reflection

In the gospel lesson this week, Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem and begin the climax of the Gospel story.  The Pharisees are warning Jesus about Herod. This is the same Herod who, not long before, was responsible for the death of John the Baptist. Rather than turning tail, however, Jesus gave the messengers another message to deliver: Jesus was going to cure illness and cast out demons like he had been doing the whole time, and then “on the third day” (soon) he will finish his work. Finish his work? Jesus knew exactly what was coming. In the church year, this journey to Jerusalem marks the beginning of the season of Lent, and on Good Friday Jesus will give his life to pay for the sins of the whole world.

Athletes may train their entire lives with dreams of competing at the Olympic Games, despite the dangers of their craft. Similarly, Jesus’ life of selfless acts of saving and healing culminates with his trip to Jerusalem. In the same way that past hazards had not changed his message or direction, Jesus would not be swayed by warnings about a murderous Herod. Athletes risk life and limb for a shot at the gold; Jesus went to Jerusalem knowing that he would give himself as the ultimate sacrifice for us all.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some of your personal goals? What are you doing to reach them? What “dangers” are you facing in your pursuit of these goals?
  2. Have you ever walked into a situation knowing that it wasn’t going to end well, but also knowing that good was going to come out of it?


Activity Suggestion

Talk to someone you know and greatly respect. Ask what hurdles he or she crossed in order to accomplish major life goals.

Closing Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for the talents you have given us, and our ability to meet life’s tough challenges head-on. Please watch us and keep us safe as we venture through this week. Amen.