Contributed by Claudia Bergmann, Erfurt, Germany

Warm-up Question

What was the worst day of your life?  the best?

The Best and the Worst

What would it feel like to receive the highest praise for your performance at school or on the job, and 24 hours later to have the same performance called the worst ever?

Sandra Bullock would know. Three weeks ago, she received two Golden Raspberries, awards for both the worst female lead of the year and the worst female part in a screen couple. Twenty-four hours later, she was awarded the Oscar for the” best actress in a leading role” for her performance in The Blind Side.

The Golden Raspberry award, first handed out in 1981, is a golf ball-sized depiction of a raspberry sitting on a film reel, spray-painted gold and worth $4.79. What started as an impromptu ceremony at the house of John Wilson is now covered by CNN and other major networks. While not everybody who was awarded a Golden Raspberry accepted it at the ceremony, Bullock showed her sense of humour by giving an acceptance speech and handing out copies of the worst movie of the year to the audience.

A day later, Bullock, who had taken a break from acting a few years ago because she did not consider herself good at her job, held 8.5 pounds of gold-plated britannium in her hand. This statuette, the so-called Oscar, was proof that she was good at her job as an actress.

Sandra Bullock became the first performer to receive both awards in the same year. While the Oscar will cement her position as one of the top-earning Hollywood screen stars, the “Razzie” might remind her of what it is like to be loved and hated at the same time for what you do.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you follow the Oscars and other award shows? If so, do they influence your interest in seeing a movie?
  • What types of movies do you like? Why?
  • Who do you think should get an Oscar or a “Razzie” for a recent performance?


Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, March 28, 2010  (Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday)

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Philippians 2:5-11

Luke 22:14-23:56

(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

Our long reading for today is full of joy, love, and hope—but also fear, sadness, and hatred. It is also full of events that bring Jesus’ story to a close: the Last Supper, Simon Peter’s denial of Christ, Judas’ betrayal, Jesus’ trial, a prophecy to the daughters of Jerusalem, the crucifixion, and the deeds of Joseph of Arimathea. Our text is a lens which focuses on the worst and the best in the life of Jesus and his followers.

Take the disciples and their relationship to Jesus. First, they come together, eating and drinking as if they are a family. Their meal is the beginning of the Eucharist, when we remember Jesus’ life and deeds, and taste his presence in our lives. But soon, the family is torn apart and the worst happens. One disciple betrays Jesus, another denies that he ever knew him. And then, Joseph of Arimathea, who had never even been a disciple of Jesus, risks his life to provide Jesus with a proper funeral. The worst and the best behavior, all within a few hours.

Or take Jesus himself. He has so much to say in our text.  His emotions include loving care of those around him, utter despair, and absolute trust in God’s love. Jesus himself experiences the worst and the best of all emotions, and again, all within a few hours.

The journey of Jesus Christ and his disciples which we witness in today’s reading is not a straight and even path. On the contrary, it is full of ups and downs, extreme events and extreme emotions.

Guess what? Anyone who tells you that your faith journey will be a straight and even path is wrong!  All Christians go through ups and downs in their faith. There are times when we are certain of God’s presence in our lives. There are times when we truly feel and taste that Jesus Christ is present among us as we eat of his bread and drink of his wine. There are times when we look into the waters of baptism and have the feeling that God looks back at us. But there are other times as well. Times when we question God’s presence in our lives, when we doubt, when we even fear that we have lost our faith and might never find it again.

Faith doesn’t start at one point and grow continually after that. It gets stronger and it gets weaker.  It might disappear and then be reawakened within us with even greater strength. But there is one thing to remember. The ups and downs in our faith journey have to do with us, not with God. We believe that God’s love for us is a steady stream, something that does not grow or lessen depending on how we behave and feel.  Ups and downs in our faith life are normal and human. Sometimes the way is very clear and sometimes we are not so sure what God desires of us.  This is one of the reasons why Jesus could, on the one hand, pray that God would take this cup from him (Luke 22:42) and on the other hand trust his life into Gods hands (Luke 23:46). And it is one of the reasons why Simon Peter, who denied ever knowing Jesus, became once again a proud believer and a founder of the Christian community.  But at whatever point on the faith-scale we are, we can trust that God’s loving attention is ever upon us.

Discussion Questions

  • What has been the absolute lowest point on your faith journey? What was the high point?
  • How do you think the faith journey changes as one gets older? Does it get easier to believe? Does it get harder?
  • Are there things which your family or your congregation can do to support you when your faith drops to a low point?

Activity Suggestions

Meet the Text Word-by-Word

Assign each person in your group a role in the gospel narrative. Have print-outs of the entire text and markers of different colors ready. Give individuals and groups of speakers time to read and mark up the entire text. You need the following speakers: a narrator, Jesus, Simon Peter, the disciples, a maid, a man at the fire, the men who mocked Jesus, the elders, Pilate, the soldiers at the cross, the criminal at the cross.  Then, have your group read the entire passage out loud.

Afterwards, discuss what they found out about the different characters as they spoke the words. What did the characters feel and think as they witnessed the last hours in the life of Christ? What did Jesus feel and think? What changes in the behaviour of the main characters occurred?

Faith Map

Ask your students to draw a faith map of their faith journey, marking important dates or events in their lives. Provide large sheets of paper, different pens, images, scrap-book materials, glue, etc. Give your students ample time to do this creative exercise and ask volunteers to share their faith maps with the group. Perhaps you can display the faith maps somewhere in your church.

Following One Disciple’s Up-and-Down Faith Journey: Simon Peter

Ask your students to research the life of Simon Peter as it is portrayed in the New Testament and in Christian art. Provide them with a few key scripture texts about Simon Peter to look up, along with art work reflecting his life. (For art work about Simon Peter go to, “Peter”)  Similarly to the exercise above, ask your students to develop a faith map of Peter’s life which you can display in your church.

Some Scripture texts about Simon Peter: Mat 14:28-31, Mat 16:13-20, Mark 1:16-17, Mark 1:29-31, Luke 5:4-11, Luke 24:1-12, John 1:44, John 13:2-11, John 20:1-9, John 21:15-17, Acts 4:7-22, Acts 9:32-10:2, Galatians 2:11-14. You might also use this exercise to explain to your students how to use a  concordance  to look up biblical phrases or names. If your group is large enough, they might be able to look up all occurrences of the name Simon Peter in a concordance.

Closing Prayer

Faithful God,  we experience highs and lows in our faith, ups and downs, times of certainty and times of doubt. We pray that you meet us on our faith journey in whatever corner we might be hiding. We pray that you pick us up and show us the way when we fall. And we pray that you show us people with whom we might share our faith, if we happen to have an overabundance of it. Amen.