Jocelyn Breeland, Sunnyvale, CA


Warm-up Question

What are you going to do this summer?

Building a Legacy

Barack and Michelle Obama have pledged $2 million to summer youth job program in Chicago. The donation comes in the form of $1 million gifts to each of two organizations – One Summer Chicago and the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance. These programs offer jobs, apprenticeships, mentoring and recreation to thousands of young people in Chicago’s South Side.

One goal of these programs is to provide at risk youth something constructive to do during the summer, part of an effort to counter the violence that has plagued that city. But President Obama pointed to another important purpose of these programs.

His presidential library will be built in that community and the former president has stated one goal of the center will be to boost employment in the area, during and after construction. The former president is quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying, “We want to make sure that some of those young people can get trained so people don’t say, ‘Why didn’t you hire anybody from the neighborhood?’ And the contractor says, ‘We didn’t have anybody who was trained.’”

The presidential center and museum are scheduled to open in 2021.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you have a summer job?
  • Are summer employment programs important for young people?
  • How will this donation affect President Obama’s legacy?
  • How does your summer plan – whether it includes work, studies, or just hanging out – prepare you for the future?

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Acts 17:22-31

1 Peter 3:13-22

John 14:15-21

(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 B at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Today we see Jesus trying to leave a lasting impression with his disciples. He’s trying to prepare them for their lives after his crucifixion and resurrection – events that, at this point, the disciples can’t even imagine. Perhaps because he understands the confusion and emotion that will follow, he’s kept the message as simple as possible: Love me. Keep my commandments.

It sounds simple enough, but we know it isn’t. Living a life of faith is challenging.  Discerning God’s purpose for our lives – discerning that greater purpose and also navigating the many smaller moment – is hard. Resisting the temptations and distractions of the world is difficult.

In verse 8, Phillip says what many of us think, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” It would be a lot simpler to maintain the conviction of our faith if we had physical, tactile certainty of God’s presence before us. But then we wouldn’t need faith.

But Jesus wants his followers to know that, in him, they have seen the face of God on earth and that God would never make plans for us that we don’t have the ability and resources to fulfill. He will send the Holy Spirit, to walk with us. Though we do not have the physical presence of Jesus walking with us as he did with the disciples, the Holy Spirit is a comforter when we need healing or consolation, and a helper when we need guidance or the courage to live Christ’s radical message in the world.

Discussion Questions

  • Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Is he referring to the Ten Commandments, or something else?
  • Does following the commandments prove your love of God?
  • As Jesus prepares to leave his disciples, what legacy has he left them? How does this prepare the disciples for their lives of witness?
  • How do you see the promises Jesus made to his disciples in your life?

Activity Suggestions

  • Look ahead one year and list the things you need to accomplish in that time.
  • Make a list of the help you will need from others to accomplish those goals.
  • Share your lists with the group. (Depending on the size of the group, it may make sense to break into smaller groups.)
  • Try to identify opportunities where you can provide the help that’s on someone else’s list.
  • Pray together that each of the needs will be met.

Closing Prayer

Merciful Father, thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus, whose sacrifice has won our victory over death. And thank you for the many ways you bless us by providing, according to our needs, all that is necessary to fulfill your plan. Help us to listen to the voice of the Spirit of Truth and heed its divine guidance. And help us to be the voice of comfort and encouragement to one another. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen