Contributed by Angie Larson, Clive, Iowa


Warm-up Question

When is it ok to use photoshop on a photo?

Who Will You Advocate For?

Fourteen year old, Julia Bluhm has begun a petition to ask Seventeen magazine, a magazine geared towards teenage women, to cut back in using Photoshop on their photos.  She started a petition on and has so far had over 70,000 people sign that petition. Bluhm believes that cutting back on the amount of photo alterations would benefit the young women who read and subscribe to the magazine.  Bluhm wrote, “The media tells us that ‘pretty’ girls are impossibly thin with perfect skin. Here’s what lots of girls don’t know. Those ‘pretty women’ that we see in magazines are fake. They’re often photoshopped, air-brushed, edited to look thinner, and to appear like they have perfect skin. A girl you see in a magazine probably looks a lot different in real life. That’s why I’m asking Seventeen magazine to commit to printing one unaltered — real — photo spread per month.”  Bluhm is advocating for thousands of girls who compare themselves to the photos in the magazines.

There is debate concerning  this advocacy program.  Some say that selling magazines is what it’s all about; it’s just business and putting Seventeen’s best look forward is what sells.  Others say that the unrealistic and unachievable perfection of  photo-shopped photos are partially to blame for eating disorders and low self –esteem.  At this time Seventeen has not issued a response.


Discussion Questions

  • If you had a zit on your face during the day of your yearbook photo, would you want it computer altered to make you look more flawless?
  • What do you think of Julia’s advocacy campaign?
  • Would you be willing to sign Julia’s petition or do you agree with the magazine’s perspective?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, May 27, 2012 (Day of Pentecost)

Acts 2:1-21

Romans 8:22-27

John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

(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

In this part of John’s Gospel Jesus tells his friends that the Advocate will come.  By the “Advocate” he is referring to the third part of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.  As Christians we try to grasp an understanding of God the Father from Scripture.  We also know Jesus through the Gospel, but our understanding of the Holy Spirit can be confused.  The Holy Spirit is just as much at work as God the Father, or Jesus the Son.  However, the Spirit’s work is more mysterious.

When the disciples heard Jesus talking about the Holy Spirit as an advocate who will come when He is gone, they were confused.  They couldn’t understand what he was saying about his upcoming death, resurrection, and ascension. He also calls the disciples to testify to the truth about who Jesus is.  Jesus knows that he must leave in order for the Advocate to come.

The Advocate or Spirit will come to “convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.”  At the same time it will “guide you into the truth.”  Both the good and the bad will be revealed.  The Holy Spirit is our advocate, it will guide us in areas that we need someone to help us to understand the true nature of the world.  The Holy Spirit will help us to see accurately, un-airbrushed, the reality of who Jesus was.

Discussion Questions

  •  How do you see the Holy Spirit’s movement in your own life?
  • Having read the Scripture text, what do you think was the disciples’ original reaction?
  • Who are some that do not know Jesus yet?  How can you share with them the truth?

Activity Suggestions

  •  Make a list of causes you think you can advocate for.  What world concerns do you think need to be pointed out as issues?  Choose one issue or cause. Brainstorm ways that you can witness and testify to others about what you understand to be the truth.
  • Create a mock trial situation.  On one side, have a “lawyer” explain and call witnesses about why Jesus is the Son of God.  On the other, have a group explain why he is not.  Put together your own trial and practice apologetics in order to learn how to better testify.  Then switch sides.

Closing Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for blessing us with this time together.  Open our hearts to your Holy Spirit, your Advocate for us.  Help us to see your activity in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  Help us to know your love and care for us in our own unaltered state. Please use us Lord for your kingdom. Amen.