Tim Jacobsen, West Des Moines, IA

Warm-up Question

What is a food that you thought would be disgusting, but was actually really good?

Come and See

This weekend we celebrate and remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all that he accomplished through the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.  We still feel Dr. King’s impact today. Dr. King sought equal rights for African Americans and all who are oppressed by the systems in the United States. As many experienced in the summer of 2020, with civil unrest after the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, there is still work to be done confronting systemic racism in our country. Yet Dr. King’s legacy lives on, empowering a new generation to work for equality in our country and world. 

It is part of our human condition to make judgements and seek power; this is part of our brokenness. We often judge others on how they look, talk, dress, think, or act. When we make such judgements, we diminish others in our minds, whether we express that judgment out loud or act on it. 

In Dr. Kings famous “I have a dream speech” he says, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

Discussion Questions

  • What have you learned about the Civil Rights Movement?
  • What work still needs to be done to fight injustice?
  • How can we judge people by character only?

Second Sunday after Epiphany

1 Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20]

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

John 1:43-51

(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

When the ELCA Youth Gathering was in Detroit in 2015, I remember a lot of attendees asking “Is there anything good in Detroit, has anything good come from there?” There were many layers to this question.  One concerned race and judgements made about those who lived in Detroit. Another reflected how Detroit was going through changes, as manufacturing declined and left people without jobs. Detroit is a very storied city, which one needs to go and see to appreciate. I loved our time in Detroit, getting a chance to accompany our neighbors there and to let them know we see them. 

In the gospel for today, Phillip finds Nathanael and brings him to Jesus. After asking, “Does anything good come from Nazareth?”, Phillip invites Nathanael to “come and see.” Phillip calls Nathanael on his judgment of Nazareth and invites him to come and see. So often we make judgements about people, locations, churches, or cultures without ever going to see. 

Going and seeing, being with our neighbor (the other) gives us a new perspective. This new perspective shows us the greatness of God’s creation. As Dr. King pointed out through his work in the leading the Civil Rights movement, we are all children of God, we are all more than just how we look or where we live. Jesus knew Nathanael;  after this interaction, Nathanael knew Jesus . 

Jesus knows us and our neighbor. He is present with us all, even in those people we don’t like. What would it look like if we were, like Phillip, inviting people into our community, to know Jesus regardless of who they are. We are not God, so it is not our job to judge. We are free from the burden of judgement to serve and love our neighbor as Jesus loved and served his neighbors. 

Discussion Questions

  • Have you made judgements about people or places and then realized you were wrong?
  • Have you felt like God didn’t know you or wasn’t with you?
  • When have you been called to go and see and had your view changed?
  • How have you seen God through community?
  • What would it look like to see your neighbor through Jesus’ eyes?

Activity Suggestions

Talk about discipleship and what it looks like to be a disciple who invites others on this faith journey. Have your group think about friends they could invite to church and what it would look like for your youth group to be invitational. 

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 and see our neighbors. We have been blessed with much and long for much.  Help us to be content and willing to share our blessings with others.  Amen