Seth Moland-Kovash, Palatine, IL

Warm-up Question

With whom do you feel closest? Is it your family, your friends?

How Can We Help?

There are many reasons that we can feel divided as people. We sometimes divide people into groups and separate based on gender, or on race, or on class, age, or sexual orientation. Some separations can be healthy – you are not a member of family. That is not a judgement; it’s just a simple fact. But often, separations and divisions keep us all from being the people we can be and that God created us to be. One of the most enduring and powerful ways in which people are separated is based on race. We have recently watched events surrounding the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma as well as divisions in our society based on the events in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, and elsewhere.

Recently, the national coffee chain Starbucks has begun to promote a “Race Together” conversation guide and encouraged baristas to write “Race Together” on customers’ coffee cups on March 20. The goal, as Starbucks states, is to get customers and employees talking together about race in our society and about how these things have affected them personally.


Discussion Questions

  • Which types of divisions do you feel at work in your life in a negative way?
  • Do you feel as though divisions based on race are at work in your school? What about in your church?

Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Philippians 2:5-11

Mark 14:1-15:47; Mark 15:1-39 [40-47] (alternate)

(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

We often say that Jesus came into the world to break down divisions. Jesus came to bring people together. He ate with those who other would not. He touched lepers who were shunned by others. He reached out to Samaritans and commissioned his disciples to go “into all nations” with God’s message of reconciliation and forgiveness.

As we enter Holy Week we contemplate the ultimate way in which Jesus broke down barriers. Not only did Jesus come to break down barriers between people, but Jesus came to break down barriers that keep us as people separated from God. Mark 15:38 says that “the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” at the moment that Jesus died. That curtain symbolized the separation between humanity and God. In Jesus’ death, the separation was broken down.

Discussion Questions

  • What would it feel like to feel as close to God as you do to the person sitting next to you right now?
  • How do you think Jesus’ death brings us together with God?
  • How do you think Jesus’ death brings us together with other people?

Activity Suggestion

Participate in your congregation’s full slate of worship services this week. Walk the journey and experience the whole story. Let it bring you closer to God.

Closing Prayer

Good and gracious God, in this Holy Week bring us together. Bring us together with others and bring us together before your throne. Amen.