Jocelyn Breeland, Sunnyvale, CA

Warm-up Question

How has climate change affected your community?

Guidance for the Future

If there’s one thing other than COVID-19 that we’ve heard a lot about in the last year, it is the environment and the devastating effects of climate change. This has been a record-breaking year of wildfires, floods, tropical storms and hurricanes. A United Nations report over the summer warned that the earth is warming faster than previously thought, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged world leaders to take decisive action now to avert climate catastrophe.”

There is some good news. That same UN report says that if the world can reach net zero emissions by midcentury, global warming can be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius (about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). President Joe Biden has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% this decade. US lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to work on a spending bill that includes $150 billion in incentives to promote clean electricity. At this writing, that provision faces strong opposition, but there are other climate-related incentives in the bill which may survive.

The world is watching what happens in the US, but also looking to Glasgow, Scotland where the 26th meeting of the Conferences of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change takes place October 31 – November 12. Biden, former president Barack Obama and leaders from more than 190 countries will gather to discuss progress on existing commitments and additional measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Discussion Questions

  • Have you or your family made lifestyle changes to combat global warming? (Examples might include, walking or biking instead of taking a car, reducing meat consumption, using a zero-emissions vehicle)
  • Are there more things you might start doing that could make a difference?
  • What do you think the government can do to encourage climate action in this country? For example, should the government require all new cars to be zero emissions by a set date?
  • Many have pointed to fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) use as contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. But many Americans have, for generations, depended on these industries for employment. Is it possible to lower emissions without depriving people of their livelihood?

All Saints Sunday

Isaiah 25:6-9

Revelation 21:1-6

John 11:32-44

(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

John places the story of Lazarus, raised from the dead, inside a larger narrative of lessons and miracles. It is clear, in hindsight, that Jesus is preparing his disciples for his own death and resurrection, and for the work they must continue after the ascension. 

  • This part of my ministry is ending. (John 9:4 )
  • I am going to die, so I can live again. (John 10:17)
  • Believing in me is the way to eternal life. (John 11:25)

Even Lazarus’ resurrection is done so that the witnesses will understand that Jesus is truly the son of God sent to the world. (John 11:42)

Jesus ponders his own journey and the trials he faces in the days ahead on the road to the cross. But he knows that his followers will also face difficulties, persecution and even death in fulfilling their missions. So, Jesus constantly reinforces the assurance that he, the son, was sent by God, the father, in order that believers will have eternal life. And what better way to reinforce the message of triumph over death than by raising a man whose body has already begun to reek from decomposition?

Often, when we think about God providing for all our needs, we think of gifts like employment, food and shelter. What a blessing to know that God has also provided what we need to nourish and strengthen our faith.

Discussion Questions

  • John tells us that Jesus groaned (v. 38, was troubled (v. 33), and wept (v.35). If Jesus knew Lazarus would live again, how do you explain this emotion?
  • In verse 32, Mary seems to be scolding Jesus for his tardiness. Is that OK?  Why does John include this encounter?
  • Mary sent for Jesus (v. 3) praying, we assume, that he could heal Lazarus before he died. What does the rest of the story show us about how God answers our prayers?

Activity Suggestions

This activity has two steps. 

Part One. Think about something which requires preparation in order to succeed. For example, imagine what is necessary to succeed in high school. You might mention developing good study habits, taking elective courses to expand your horizons, becoming active in the community, or resisting peer pressure. Now, name five things that can prepare a person for a positive high school experience. Who are key individuals in this preparation? 

Share a few of your ideas within the group.

Part Two. List a few things which might be useful in preparing a person for a life of faith. What might you need to study, experience, or understand? In this week’s gospel, we see an example of Jesus preparing his followers for a life of faith. Sometimes, God gives us the blessing of leading and supporting each other in our walks of faith. List ways that you can help nurture faith in others. 

Share these ideas and have each member of the group commit to carry out at least one during the next week. Maybe there are ways two or more of you can work together. That’s OK.

Report back on your experience in the next session 

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, you know all, you see all, and you provide for all our needs. We rest in the assurance of your promise of everlasting life, and we are emboldened to share your truth in the world. Thank you for sending Jesus to guide us every step of the way. To you, O Lord, be the glory. Amen.Prepare