Amy Martinell, Sioux Falls, SD

Warm-up Question

What is the one sight you want to make sure to see in your life?

Seeing the Unseen

Last weekend a video surfaced of members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma singing a racist chant while traveling on a bus to a party.     The chant, which included references to lynching and racial slurs, has caused quite a backlash.  The fraternity house has been banned, the students have moved out and the leaders of the chant have been expelled from the university.  Several protests have been held on campus including the Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops and his football team walking arm-in-arm across campus.


Discussion Questions

  • Racial issues have been in the news a lot over the last few months.  What are your thoughts on race in the United States?  Where has progress been made?  Where are there still gains to be made?
  • Many organizations, like the Oklahoma football team, have marched in protest of the video.  When have you stood up for something you thought was wrong?  When have you stayed silent even when you know something is wrong?

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Hebrews 5:5-10

John 12:20-33

(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

“Sir, we want to see Jesus”

I wonder what the Greeks were looking for when they came to the disciples with this request.  Did they simply want to see the man who was drawing all the attention?  Were they hoping to see a sign for themselves?  Were they there to request a healing or ask a question?

Whatever caused them to seek Jesus out, I doubt they expected everything that they would see and everything that would happen. But as Jesus responds to the relayed request, he seems to say if you want to see me; then be ready because what is coming is what you must see.   Life with Jesus is more than spectacular signs and stories.  Life with Jesus is serving others, life with Jesus is sacrifice, and life with Jesus is laying down your life.

Jesus death on the cross is a sign of solidarity with the suffering of humanity.   His death promises that no matter what terrible thing you are going through Jesus has been there and will go there again to be with you. This promise brings us comfort, but it also means that when we go looking for Jesus we may have to look to the places we’d rather not see. ‘

An Oklahoma student said racism has been a problem on campus for a long time, but no one wanted to see it.  As disciples we are called to see the evil and ugliness in the world even when we would rather look away.   Jesus spent his life among the sick, poor and marginalized and that is where Jesus is found today.   We can feel powerless against evils like racism and it seems easier to try not to notice all that is wrong. Yet, Jesus is found among the unseen and unheard and we are called to follow him there trusting that with Jesus on our side even the most insurmountable situations can be changed.

Discussion Questions

  • What are some of the evils in the world you would rather not see or think about?  How is pretending these problems do not exist easier than working for change?
  • Who are the unseen people and what are the unseen problems in your community?  In your church? What would you like to change?  How can you make that change happen?
  • How have you seen or felt God’s presence in the low times in your life?  Where do you see God in the situation at the University of Oklahoma?

Activity Suggestions

  • There are many people in our own life that we rarely notice or interact with even though we see them on a daily basis.  Brainstorm the unseen people in your life (bus drivers, janitors, cafeteria workers, etc.) and chose one to write a thank you note to for all they have done for you.
  • Make up your own positive chant about what you like or what you’d like to change about your church.
  • Go to the movie Selma and continue the conversation on race in the United States.

Closing Prayer

Dear Jesus, We give you thanks for your promise to be with us no matter what we are going through.  Open our eyes to all the injustice in the world and give us the courage to stand with those in need.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.