Contributed by David Dodson, Fort Walton Beach, FL


Warm-up Question

What natural disasters and dangers exist where you live?  How do you prepare for an emergency situation at home and at school?

Tick, Tick, BOOM!

shutterstock_118088911editThe National Geographic Channel show “Doomsday Preppers” chronicles the lives and practices of “survivalists,” people who put a great deal of thought and effort into preparing for major catastrophes.  These survivalists are concerned about a wide range of disasters, anything from natural disasters to the end of the world.  Their preparations can include anything from the construction of survival bunkers to planting self-sustaining gardens, storing fuel, and hoarding food.

Braxton and Kara Southwick of Salt Lake City were the first “Preppers” to be profiled on the show.  In an interview, the Southwicks offered some insight into their motivation for all of this preparation.  While Braxton doesn’t believe in any specific doomsday scenario, he says that he is generally concerned about changes he perceives in the world.  And while he doesn’t think that the world is going to be ending any minute, he doesn’t regret being prepared.  As he puts it, if you’re preparing for a doomsday scenario, “you’re just as prepared for a hurricane or an economic collapse or a nuclear weapon.”

The Southwicks admit that their prepping may strike others as “kooky”, but they plan to keep at it.  Even if no disaster strikes, they say that they enjoy “prepping” as a hobby.  As Braxton says, “It’s our little pet project. Some people collect China and trinkets. We collect food and other things. We’ll use all our food and fuel eventually.”

(The full interview can be found at


Discussion Questions

  •  What would you think about the Southwicks if they were your neighbors?
  • Is there such a thing as being “too prepared”?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, November 17, 2013 (Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost)

Malachi 4:1-2a

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Luke 21:5-19

(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

A “doomsday prepper” would certainly be riled up by Jesus’ words in the Gospel!  In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus gives his followers quite an apocalyptic view, warning them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.”

Sounds frightening, indeed!  But Jesus isn’t trying to scare his followers.  In fact, he points out that even before any of those things happen, his disciples will find themselves persecuted for following Jesus and proclaiming the Good News of God to the entire world.

Despite these predictions, Jesus doesn’t advise his followers to hoard food or hide from the authorities.  He even tells them “not to prepare [their] defense in advance”.  Those who want to follow the will of God should not try to prepare for every possibility, but to simply trust God and do God’s work from day-to-day.  Imagine living that way!  What would it be like to live each day as if it could be the last chance you have to do God’s work?  What would you do differently?

In the book of Acts, we find that the early Church did live very differently after hearing Jesus’ words.  In Acts 2:44-47, we find, “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

Living for God today can change our priorities.  We value people more than things.  We spend more time with God and less time by ourselves.  We treasure our families – both at home and in our church.  And what’s more, God richly blesses us and gives us more and more to be thankful for.

And so, remember:  Jesus is coming – look busy!

Discussion Questions

  •  How does your family set aside time to spend together?  What about your youth group?
  • What would you say is the most important thing you did last week?  Why would you consider it important?

Activity Suggestions

Ephesians 6: 13-17 lists the Armor of God, including such things as the Breastplate of Righteousness and the Sword of the Spirit.  Write your own list: God’s Emergency Kit.  Use Ephesians as a model for crafting an allegory or series of images which describes how we are to live each day.

Closing Prayer

God our Protector and Provider, we thank you for the rich blessings you bestow upon our families, our church, and our world.  We are grateful for all that you provide us on a daily basis and we know that we often become too comfortable with your gifts.  Please help us to remember to be your hands to a world in need and guide us to do your will today.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen