Sara Galyon, Decatur, GA
Do you feel like God is active in your life? Why, or why not?
We are in the season of graduations. Some high schools in the country are already prepping for their graduations, and many colleges have already had their ceremonies.
Rollins College celebrated its graduation on May 8th. Located in Winter Park, Florida, Rollins had five valedictorians, all obtaining a perfect 4.0 GPA. Of those four, one is a non-speaking autistic woman named Elizabeth, who was chosen by the other valedictorians to give the graduation address.
By typing with one finger in a “text to speech” program, she delivered her speech with the help of a communication partner. She was diagnosed with non-speaking autism at 15 months old. Her mother was told she would never communicate, but her mother was determined to find a solution. She taught her daughter how to use various tools and, ultimately, how to communicate with others by typing. Elizabeth said being able to type “unlocked [her] mind from its silent cage,” allowing her to get to the point where she’d share that mind in a graduation address.
She called the class of 500 students to lives of service to others, because that will give their lives meaning. She ended her speech saying, “God gave you a voice. Use it. And know, the irony of a nonspeaking autistic encouraging you to use your voice is not lost on me. Because if you can see the worth in me, you can see the worth in everyone you meet.”
- Graduations are often a time of saying goodbye, and sometimes come with some uncertainty about the future. Have you ever experienced a time when you said good-bye to someone or something, and then weren’t sure what would come next? What was that like?
- When have you looked back on things which have happened in your life and realized that God must have been at work in that situation?
- When have you felt called to use your voice, for the good of others, or yourself? Did you use your voice? How did you feel that call?
Sixth Sunday of Easter
(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.
This text transports us back to before Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus is preparing his followers for what is to come.
As lectionary passages often do, this one begins in the middle of a conversation. A disciple has asks Jesus how he will reveal himself to the disciples when the world cannot see him, as Jesus describes in John 14:19. It’s a good question. They have never experienced anything like what Jesus describes. Of course, Jesus gives a very Jesus-y answer to that question. Love. Love is the way the disciples will know Jesus. The disciples love for Jesus, and God’s love for them.
Jesus goes on to reassure them that they aren’t totally alone once he returns to God. He describes the third part of what we know as the Trinity. God will send the Advocate (Holy Spirit) after Jesus is gone, to continue to teach them and remind them of everything Jesus has said to them while the world could still see him.
He then goes on to describe the peace that Jesus plans to leave with them. This peace belongs to Jesus, and it is not the peace that the world gives. This period in history is also known as the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) , a nearly 200 year period when there was relative peace and prosperity throughout the empire. But that peace came through bloodshed and was maintained through military strength. This is an example of how Jesus turns the worldly narrative on its head: Jesus leaves peace through love. The emperor keeps peace through force, which the disciples will see first hand at Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion.
This passage is part of what scholars call the Farewell Discourse. It’s a goodbye message from Jesus to the disciples. While they may have been very confused in the moment, we get the benefit of centuries to look back on this text and think about what it means for God to send the Holy Spirit after Jesus leaves the world.
- The Holy Spirit has many names;, in this case we have the word “Advocate.” What does Advocate mean to you?
- How do you see the difference between the peace that Jesus gives to us, and the peace the world offers today?
- As Christians, we believe the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives and in the world around us. Looking back on your life, where do you think the Holy Spirit was at work?
- The future for the disciples was very uncertain at this point. How does the future look for you? How is the Holy Spirit guiding you as you lean into whatever will be your future?
Supplies: chart paper, sticky notes, pens (alternatively, you can use a whiteboard and markers)
- Hand out the sticky notes and pens to everyone and put the chart paper where it is in the center of the group. Have everyone write ways they think the Holy Spirit is actively at work in the world. This can be from personal experience, news stories, projects in your community etc.
- As they come up with their ideas, have them place the sticky notes on the chart paper. After everyone has come up with a few, ask if anyone wants to share theirs. Then see if you can add more as a group. See if you can fill the paper! You may be surprised at how active God is in the world through the Holy Spirit once you start really thinking about it!
Loving God, your Advocate is welcome in this place and we ask that you fill our lives with inklings, ideas, nudges, and outright shoves into the directions you call us to participate as your people in the world. Open our eyes to areas where your love is needed. Help us love Jesus and our neighbors in the way you love us. Walk with us as we work together to show your peace to a troubled world. In your name we pray. Amen.