Herb Wounded Head, Brookings SD

Warm-up Question

Would you consider yourself an honest person? Would you say that your friends are honest people? 

Who Are You?

A young man was caught using Alexa to cheat on his homework. The mother caught him using Alexa to do his math homework and posted a video on social media to show what he was doing. The boy simply asked Alexa, “What is 5 minus 3?”  The boy seemed unaware that he was doing anything wrong.  He was simply using a tool with which he was very familiar.  The incident raises the deeper questions of how we learn right from wrong and where we are to draw the line between cheating and simply using a new technology well.

A lot of this has to do with our sense of identity and integrity. Identity is your understanding of who you are and what you’re about. Integrity is that you do what you say you’re going to do. It’s important for us to know who we are in order to have a sense of what’s right and wrong. Usually, we are taught at a young age our sense of ethic and the difference between right and wrong. 

When we get older, we often have to re-evaluate what this sense of ethic is depending on circumstances and depending on the situation we find ourselves in. If we don’t constantly evaluate our sense of right and wrong, we may do things that are unethical, even though they may seem harmless decisions, they can change our sense of identity and integrity. So we have to ask ourselves who we are and whose we are from time to time in order to enter our baptismal lives with a sense of integrity and a solid sense of identity.

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever cheated at anything? What was it? Did you get caught?
  • How did you feel after cheating?

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Jeremiah 1:4-10

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Luke 4:21-30

(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

Oh how things can change when we’re honest and prophetic with people. Jesus starts out in this passage in a positive light and ends the passage with the people willing to throw him off a cliff. All because he interpreted scripture for them in light of revealing his own identity to them. Jesus knows his prophetic and honest words to them will be met with rejection. Jesus has a very clear sense of who he is and how expansive his ministry will be. Jesus is rejected because he announces that his ministry is meant for outsiders, not those who feel a sense of entitlement or privilege just for being on the inside. 

This isn’t an anti-Semitic message, the congregation in the synagogue is not unique in feeling entitled to special favor from God.  Rather, this is also a message for us who are on the inside: the baptized and the churched. We need to understand and grasp that ministry is for those who have been shut outside the church’s walls and ignored and cast out by society. Jesus is with the widow and the leper, bringing them healing and wholeness and it’s our calling to bring healing and wholeness of God’s grace in Christ to the world outside.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Jesus’ says his ministry is for outsiders?
  • When have you felt like an outsider?
  • What word of God’s grace have you heard today?
  • Who are the outsiders in our world, the ones we are tempted to forget, treat as invisible, or place beyond the circle of God’s concern and care?

Activity Suggestions

Needs: A roll of toilet paper

Ask people to remove as many tissues as they think they will need (don’t tell them why) After everyone has finished, have them count the number of squares they have taken. Have them share as many fun facts about themselves as squares they have taken.

Closing Prayer

Holy and gracious God, you come to us new, each and everyday. Help us to see your face in the outcast, the downtrodden, the lonely, the poor and the sick. Give us faith to see and ears to hear your word of grace and love in our lives. Amen.