Jocelyn Breeland, Sunnyvale, CA

Warm-up Question

Is diversity important?

Diversity and Democracy

San Francisco’s Everett Middle School principal, Lena Van Haren, came under fire last month when she withheld the results of a school election because they did not reflect the school’s diversity. quotes Van Haren saying, “It’s not OK for a school that is really, really diverse to have the student representatives majority white.”


Eighty percent of Everett’s students are non-white, including 56% Hispanic students.

While some students and parents appreciated Van Haren’s concern, there was a strong negative reaction among many parents and students at the school and, thanks to the internet, across the country.

Some said the principal was allowing political correctness to trump democracy. Others said that, although Van Haren claimed to want all voices to be heard, she was ignoring the voices of the student voters.

Van Haren later released the results and she has said she will work with students to find another way – possibly by creating additional positions – to bring greater diversity into student government. She also expressed regret about the controversy and acknowledged she probably should have not withheld the election results. Even so, she believes the public discussion created a teachable moment.

Discussion Questions

  • Is it important that the student government reflect the diversity of the student body?
  • What might have been a better way for the principal to respond?
  • The current U.S. congress is 80 percent male, although the U.S. population is more than 50 percent female. It is also 80 percent white, while whites are only 63 percent of the population.
    • How do you account for these differences?
    • Is this a problem? If so, how might it be addressed?
  • What does your faith tell you about diversity?

Lectionary 33

Daniel 12:1-3

Hebrews 10:11-14 [15-18] 19-25

Mark 13:1-8

(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

This portion of Mark’s gospel could be titled, “Don’t Be Distracted.” Don’t be distracted by the size and beauty of the temple, for it will fall. Don’t be distracted by false messiahs; they are imposters. Don’t be distracted by war and strife, these things will happen.

The disciples of Jesus’ day had trouble comprehending his hints about the destruction of the temple and his second coming and they were eager for greater clarity about the events that would signal the “beginnings of sorrows.” Modern Christians can perhaps be forgiven if we look for meaning in these signs. After all, we’ve been taught that everything fits, somehow, into God’s plan. We see dramatic events, especially bad ones like war, and wonder where they fit in. And we are eager for a sign that God is still in control.

“Take heed,” Jesus says, “that no one deceives you.” We should not let anyone or anything fool us into doubting the reality of God’s covenant in Christ. The temple may fall, but God still stands with his people. Fake prophets and messiahs don’t offer the salvation we receive in Christ. And we must not let trouble in the world or in our lives make us miss the love, comfort and strength God offers when we need it most. We must take care not to overlook God’s daily blessings, or miss an opportunity to be a blessing to someone else.

There’s no point in our worrying about events we can’t control or (often) understand. Instead, we can be confident of God’s presence in our lives, and that confidence can reassure us and free our hearts and minds to focus on fulfilling his purpose for each of us.

Discussion Questions

  • Who or what might be deceiving Christians today?
  • How can you avoid being deceived?
  • Martin Luther is often quoted as saying, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would plant a tree.” It’s not clear he actually said this, but how does this sentiment address today’s scripture?
  • If you knew the world would end tomorrow, what would you do?

Activity Suggestions

Grab a newspaper or go online and find news that matches the description in v. 8. Work together to make a list of TEN items.

Next, look for news of responses to these events that are consistent with your faith. Together, make a list of NINE.

Finally, discuss as a group a possible 10th item for the second list. How can you faithfully respond to the world around you?

Discuss, make plans and take action.

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for your constant comforting, guiding presence. Remind us, when we are distracted, of the salvation we are assured through the sacrifice of your son. Strengthen us, and help us to support each other. And bless us to shine your light wherever we go. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.