Contributed by Paul Baglyos, St. Paul, MN

Warm-up Question

 Got glory?  What is glory, and how do you get it?

Number One or Being One?

At one point during the past basketball season, Syracuse University reached no. 1 in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) ranking for men’s college basketball.  The website for Syracuse University Athletics reported the achievement under the familiar boast, “We’re Number One!”

It feels good to be number one, whether in sports, artistic ability, scholarship, or any other endeavor that requires hard work, discipline and dedication.  Individuals strive to be number one.  So, too, do schools and corporations, groups and nations.  To become not just good but the best at something brings honor and recognition, distinction and acclaim.  In common understanding, this is glory.  Glory sounds like the cheer of a crowd or the applause of an audience; it looks like a trophy or other award.  Glory walks with the confident step of a winner, and savors the rewards of success.

Discussion Questions

  • In what ways do people, either individually or collectively, strive to be number one?
  • Describe a situation in which you were, or wanted to be, number one.  Why was that important to you? 
  • Have you ever experienced glory?  Describe your experience.

 Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, May 16, 2010 (Seventh Sunday of Easter)

 Acts 16:16-34

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17

John 17:20-26

(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

Jesus prays that his followers “may all be one,” which is different than being “number one.”  His glory consists, not in distinguishing himself from others so as to draw their cheer and applause, but in forging relationships with others so as to share their lives and include them in his life.  This is a different understanding of glory than that which boasts, “We’re number one!”

Jesus seeks to become one with others as he is one with the Father, and to draw people into a new experience of unity with him and with one another.  Sometimes the theological word “atonement” is explained as “at-one-ment,” which points to the relational character of Jesus’ work in the world.  Jesus cultivates at-one-ment with and among people, opening his life to theirs and calling them to do the same with others.  Christian discipleship involves dwelling in unity with Jesus, sharing his unity with the Father and forging unity with other people.  Glory, for Christians, is not about being better than others.  It is not about being the best, but about seeking relationships with others so as to share life together and overcome the divisions which pit people against one another in destructive competition and conflict.

Discussion Questions

  • How and why is it often easier and more popular to strive to be “number one” in comparison to others than to be “one” in relationship with others?
  • In what ways does the church sometimes seek to be “number one” rather than be “one” within the fellowship of faith and in relationship with the larger world?
  • Why does Jesus’ understanding of glory often seem so inglorious?


Activity Suggestions

  • Play, as a group, some of the games described in Best New Games, by Dale N. Le Fevre (published 2002; ISBN 0-7360-3685-7).
  • Consider others who might be involved in your group but are not.  Develop a plan to include them and on your plan.


Closing Prayer

Jesus, our Savior, teach us to honor in our lives your prayer that we become one with you, those in our community of faith, and others in the world.  Amen