Paul Baglyos, Baltimore, MD

Warm-up Questions

  • How many different meanings and uses of the word “grace” can you think of? 
  • How many definitions of the word can you find online?

Alpine Angels of Grace

Seeking safety, refuge, and opportunities for a better life, people fleeing conflict and oppression in various parts of the world sometimes brave the extreme hardships of crossing the Alps from Italy into France.  Some of them perish in the effort.  All are wary of encountering hostile border patrols intent on repelling their movement.  Lately, however, some migrants have been astonished to encounter a different sort of presence in the Alps.  Networks of volunteers  greet them with provisions of hot tea, warm clothing, food, safe passage to shelter, and offers of transportation.  Beyond all differences of race, nationality, culture and politics, these volunteers and the migrants they meet in the mountains encounter one another in a shared humanity of hardship and hope, compassion and care, dignity and dreams.

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever made a deep personal connection with someone from a very different background, circumstances, or culture than your own?  If so, how, when, where and why did that happen?  What made it easier or harder for you to form a connection with that person?
  • Have you ever received unexpected comfort or support from someone you had not previously known?  If so, share that story with your group.

Second Sunday of Christmas

Jeremiah 31:7-14

Ephesians 1:3-14

John 1:[1-9]10-18

(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

The word “grace” appears several times in this passage, twice in the phrase “grace upon grace.”  The biblical and theological meaning of grace is “love freely and generously given without obligation and beyond all expectation.”  Grace, in this sense, is the character and activity of God in relation to human beings.  The most profound demonstration of God’s grace is the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, in the flesh and blood of humanity.  God’s participation in our humanity, by sharing our life in the world, testifies to God’s desire for deep personal connection with all human beings.  This is grace, says the gospel writer John, “grace upon grace.”

Discussion Questions

  • Which Christmas hymns or carols suggest the meaning of this  passage from John?  If you had to choose a Christmas hymn of the day to accompany this gospel reading in worship, which hymn would you choose?
  • John writes, “The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory.”  How, when, and where have you seen the glory of Christ?

Activity Suggestions

Decide what you might do as a group for someone in your congregation or your community that would demonstrate “grace upon grace.”  What ideas come to mind as you consider the story about the migrant aid volunteers in the Alps?

Closing Prayer

Almighty God, you gave us your only Son to take on our human nature and to illumine the world with your light.  By your grace adopt us as your children and enlighten us with your Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.  (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, page 20)