Contributed by Bob Chell, Brookings, SD

Warm-up Questions

  • When things are crummy we like ‘comfort food.’ What’s your favorite comfort food?
  • When things are terrible we retreat to a place we feel safe, where’s yours?
  • When things are awful we run away to a book, a movie, or a song; where do you run?
  • When we can’t ignore the pain anymore we go to one who loves us. Who is that for you?

It’s the Little Things

In the aftermath of the shooting in Newtown Connecticut two things happened simultaneously. People everywhere yearned to help and people everywhere felt helpless.

Now, a few short weeks later the news coverage has left us numb, the people of Newtown have requested that people stop sending teddy bears and other toys, and the only long term result appears to be an extended argument about gun control.

Yet, there are signs of hope. The children of Newtown are back in school. As is often the case, the most helpful responses come from those who have experienced similar pain or loss. Lutheran Church Charities’ “K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs” program was created after a similar shooting on a college campus in Illinois. Now Lutheran Christians bring ‘furry counselors,’ specially trained Golden Retrievers, to people and places where people are suffering or in need.

Discussion Questions

  • Does a teddy bear or a toy really help in a situation like this?  (If your group is divided try taking the opposite position for a few minutes and see what happens.)
  • How about sending Comfort Dogs? Is this a good use of peoples time and money?
  • Are there people in our community we should be supporting? How could we do that?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, January 20, 2013 (Second Sunday After Epiphany)

Isaiah 62:1-5

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

John 2:1-11
(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

This is the first miracle Jesus performed. It really doesn’t seem like a very worthwhile thing to do. More like the sort of thing Criss Angel would do than the son of God.

God’s power always seems to be revealed in understated, odd ways:   prophets with speech impediments, kings who were scoundrels—or worse, disciples who ran at the first sign of trouble, the savior of the world born homeless to unmarried parents in a cattle stall.

This week we celebrate the ministry and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a great leader in changing the course of our nation’s history through peaceful resistance rather than violence. Yet, without Rosa Parks he would have come and gone like countless pastors before him.

In 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks got off work and started home. She was tired after her long day. Her feet hurt and her bones ached.  She sat down in an empty seat, minding her own business as the bus pulled away from her stop.  More people got on the bus until it started to get crowded. She was asked to get up and give her seat to someone else. She refused to get up and move to the back of the bus just because she was black and the person who wanted to sit down was white.  Looking back at this moment in time, Rosa Parks says, “I did not get on the bus to get arrested, I got on the bus to go home.”

The anthropologist, Margaret Meade reportedly said, ““Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

We cannot bring back those who lost their lives in Newtown. We can support them in prayer and reach out to those who are hurting in our own communities, congregations, and families.

The point of Jesus miracle is not that he is more totally awesome than Criss Angel, but that God can use anything and everything to bring God’s promises to fulfillment. Even me. Even you.

Discussion Questions

  • Who in your community, congregation, or school is a “Rosa Parks” (Someone living out their faith and values without worrying about the consequences)?
  • Have you ever tried to change something such as rules at home or a school policy? What happened?
  • Young adults often have difficulty being heard by those in power and control. Who hears your voice? Are there things you can do to increase the likelihood of being heard?

Activity Suggestions

Be the change. Do something to support or encourage someone this week in a quiet way which doesn’t draw attention to yourself. Next week answer these questions: Did it change them? Did it change you?

Closing Prayer

God, we know you love us but sometimes we can’t feel it in our lives. When terrible things occur we wonder why you allow them to happen. We want to believe and trust in you but our doubts and fears make our faith weak. Give us eyes to see the people in our lives who trust in you and open our ears to your promises, so our faith may be strong enough to support others who are in pain or suffering.  Amen.