Jen Krausz, Bethlehem, PA

Warm-up Question

Have you or anyone in your family ever donated blood? What was the reasoning behind this act?

Home Crisis

The American Red Cross announced on January 11 that because U.S. blood supplies are at extremely low levels the country is facing an unprecedented blood crisis. “If the nation’s blood supply does not stabilize soon, life-saving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed,” warned in a joint statement with America’s Blood Centers and the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies. 

The agency said that the current surge in COVID-19 infections has caused its no-show rates to increase, as large numbers of people get sick. In addition, blood donations were already around 34% lower than before the pandemic because most blood drives are not being held.

The Red Cross said it currently has “less than a one-day supply of critical blood types” and has had to limit distributions to hospitals.  “At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met.”

The Red Cross encourages those who can to donate, particularly those who are type O, the universal donor. “Please, if you are eligible, make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the days and weeks ahead to ensure no patient is forced to wait for critical care,” said Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross.

Discussion Questions

  • Have there been any blood drives in your community, school, or church since the pandemic started?
  • Would you feel comfortable donating blood today if you were able to do so? Why or why not?
  • Have you or anyone in your family ever needed a blood transfusion? What happens if blood is not available when a transfusion is needed?
  • In what way is it a selfless act to donate blood? 

Third Sunday after Epiphany

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Luke 4:14-21

(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

Many people find it scary or uncomfortable to give blood.  In this week’s gospel lesson Jesus does something even more difficult:  he goes back to his hometown, Nazareth, to teach in the synagogue there. He quickly finds out that it’s not easy to go back home, where everyone knows you as a “normal” person, and present yourself as the Son of God, healer, and savior.Some of the people listening to him probably babysat him when he was young, taught him to read, or watched him apprentice as a carpenter under his earthly father, Joseph. 

Luke’s gospel says that everyone was “amazed” at him and “spoke well” of him, but they just couldn’t get past one thing: how could “Joseph’s son” be a prophet?Jesus took their reaction, however kindly intended, as a rejection. “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” The chapter ends with the townspeople angrily trying to stone Jesus outside of town. But Jesus escapes them and leaves the area, the rejection complete. 

It seems incredible that Jesus would be rejected, when to us he represents not only truth, but God’s unconditional love for each one of us. However, Jesus did not come to maintain the status quo, he came, in many ways, to demolish it. That was a lot for people to handle, especially people who knew him before his ministry started. 

Most times, when Jesus was rejected, people didn’t understand what he was trying to do. Even when Jesus gave them the information they needed, they couldn’t wrap their minds around it.  Their existing ideas of the world wouldn’t let their minds accept what Jesus was saying about God and the world. They found it hard to accept a divine love bigger than any nation, culture, religion, or community.

We too have existing ideas of the world and what it’s like.  They can get in the way of understanding Jesus—who he is, and why he came. We need to see Jesus as he really is, rather than making him who we want him to be. 

Discussion Questions

  • What makes people reject Jesus today?
  • What ideas about the world do you need to let go of before you can understand Jesus as savior?
  • Do you think the pandemic has brought people closer to Jesus or separated them more from him? In what ways? How about you?

Activity Suggestions

  • Contact your local blood donation center and ask them how you can help with the current blood crisis. Many students are too young to donate themselves, but they may be able to hand out flyers at church encouraging others to donate or make phone calls to people who can donate.
  • If your church is open to doing so, petition leadership to hold a blood drive there in the near future. The need for blood donations is ongoing, so even if your church is still restricted due to COVID-19, you may be able to convince leadership to schedule a drive in a month or two, when cases are likely to have peaked and are on the decline.

Closing Prayer

God who provides for those in need, we ask that you meet the medical needs of those who need donated blood in the coming weeks and months. Keep those who donate blood safe from any harm and healthy enough to do so. In Jesus’ name, amen.