Contributed by Jocelyn Breeland, Fairfax, VA

Warm-up Question

Have you ever had a lucky break, a time when you “beat the odds?”

Sole Survivor

The sole survivor of the recent Afriqiyah Airways plane crash in Libya was a 10-year-old Dutch boy.  Last year, the sole survivor of a Yemenia Airways plane that crashed into the Indian Ocean was a 12-year-old Parisian schoolgirl. In 2003, the sole survivor of a Sudan Airways crash was a three-year-old boy.

 In the last forty years there have been 16 crashes with a sole survivor, and half of those survivors were minors. Is there something about children that helps them survive air disasters?  You might be forgiven for thinking so.

 The reality is that the survival rate for accidental airplane crashes is over 95%, and based on the statistics, survival has nothing to do with a passenger’s age.  What’s more, although fear of flying is among our most common phobias, the National Safety Council reports the odds of dying in a plane crash (1 in 5,862 over your lifetime) are much smaller than the odds of meeting your end doing something less fearful like being a pedestrian (1 in 623) or riding in a motor vehicle (1 in 85).

Perhaps each of these survivors simply experienced a very lucky day.

Discussion Questions

  • Are you afraid of flying?  Does luck play a role in surviving a plane crash? 
  • Can faith help you survive a plane crash?
  • Imagine what it must be like to be the sole survivor of a disaster such as a plane crash.  Would that be easier or more difficult for a child?
  • Do you believe that these survivors were saved “for a reason?”
  • Would surviving a plane crash change your faith in any way?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, May 30, 2010 (Holy Trinty/First Sunday after Pentecost)

    (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

    Contemporary Christians tend to accept the concept of the triune God long before they understand what it truly means.  It’s in the hymns we sing and the creeds we recite.  So, it can be difficult for us to comprehend the attitude of the disciples as they hear the words in today’s Gospel.  Christ was explaining to them things that would take place after his crucifixion and resurrection; things they couldn’t really understand until those events had come to pass.The disciples were about to experience Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, events that would change their lives and their understanding of his mission on Earth.  These events were so far out of their realm of expectation that they couldn’t even contemplate them until they occurred.  And once they did happen, Jesus knew the disciples would feel lost without him to help them understand and move forward.Few of us are able to predict the paths our lives will take.  Like the disciples, we will probably experience a number of unforeseen circumstances—good and bad—that will change how we view ourselves, the world, and God’s plan for our lives. It’s likely that, even if a prophet could warn of those events ahead of time, our understanding of them would be incomplete until we experienced them for ourselves.  And it is likely that we will experience fear and uncertainty from time to time.But, like the disciples, we have the assurance that God provides for our needs now and in the future.  We know as they did, that as God’s plan is revealed to us, we will have the Holy Spirit to guide us and comfort us.  In times of trouble we, like the disciples, can recall Christ’s words and know that God has provided exactly what we need to cope with whatever trials each new day may bring.

Discussion Questions

  • What is it that Jesus has to tell the disciples that they cannot now bear?
  • Based on this scripture, what is the relationship of the Spirit to the Father and Son?
  • The disciples faced many trials after the Pentecost.  How might today’s Gospel have been helpful during those times?
  • If there were a prophet available, would you want to know in advance of cataclysmic events to come in your life?
  • Can your faith help you prepare for bad times?

Activity Suggestions

    A mnemonic (ni-MON-ik) device is something that aids memory.  For example, “Roy G. Biv” helps us remember the colors of the spectrum.Design a mnemonic device to help you in times of trouble to remember and call on the Holy Spirit to show you the truth, reassure you of God’s love, and lead you when you’ve lost your way.  Perhaps it’s a phrase you can remember, an image, a piece of jewelry, anything that might help you focus when you need it most.  Use your imagination. Practice using your device. 

Closing Prayer

    Heavenly Father, we know that our futures, unknown to us, are known to you and are all part of your plan. You are in control.  We are grateful that, because of the sacrifice of your son Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we always have a guide and a comforter to show us your will and your way.  We thank and praise you for these and the many other blessings you have bestowed on us.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.