A. J. Houseman, Summerville, SC

Warm-up Questions

  • Who, among those you know, got vaccinated for COVID-19 first? Do you know why they chose to be vacicanted.
  • When did you get vaccinated?
  • Do you know how many lives the COVID-19 vaccines saved?

Faith and Vaccines

The vaccines for COVID came out rapidly, which helped curb the worst of the threat and saved lives. The more people got the vaccine the less the threat of this virus, to both themselves and others.

When the vaccine came out, it was first offered to the most vulnerable in our society, the elderly.  Then to the first responders who would be out fighting to save lives every day.  Next to those just a little younger who were also vulnerable.  Finally, we were all encouraged to get vaccinated, so that each of us could do our part to help protect everyone else around us—our loved ones, strangers on the train, and all of God’s children.

Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their research on mRNA, which led to the creation of the Modera and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. “These laureates contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times.” (Nobel Assembly)

They worked for decades without much support for their research and their findings were finally published in 2005.  Many institutions didn’t see any relevance to their research or think it would ever amount to anything.  And because of this, it was hard for them to find funding and support for their research.  Then a global pandemic meant we needed their help.  Their research and findings on using mRNA to make vaccines in record time saved millions of lives. Katalin(Kati) Kariko said, “We were not working for any kind of reward, we were working to make a product that can save lives.”

Discussion Questions

  • How did the pandemic change the way you think about vaccines?
  • How did you feel about getting a vaccine?
  • What were other ways, like vaccines, to care for others during the pandemic?

Isaiah 25:1-9

Philippians 4:1-9

Matthew 22:1-14

(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 A at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

This parable Jesus tells is directed towards “them”, the same church leaders he has been arguing with for the last few weeks of our Sunday lessons.  He tells them once again what the kingdom of heaven is like. Often when Jesus tells a parable, he uses dramatic exaggeration, so that the point is not lost on the audience.  In today’s text a King throws a great feast and sends out the invitations.  But who responds? Not the church leaders.  In a shocking display of contempt for the king they reject the invitation with lame excuses.  Those who respond and attend are those considered unworthy by those same church leaders.  

What does it mean to respond to this call? Jesus offers us another dramatic image, a missing wedding garment,  because discipleship is more than just showing up.  The person who has no wedding garment is not ready to fully enter into the celebration. The image of the garment is not about clothes, it’s about what we do with our invitation. Jesus calls us to share the good news, to go out in service to the poor, the hungry, the sick, the lonely, and lost. 

We are saved by grace through faith in the gift of salvation given to us by Jesus.  And as Lutherans, we say that our job is to live in response to this gift. You have been called to the banquet, rejoice!  But it isn’t enough just to be called. How we respond to this gift in our actions shows what it means for us to be guests at the heavenly banquet.

A quotation often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi is, “Preach the gospel (the good news) at all times and only when necessary use words.”  While scholars say there is no  evidence that Francis actually spoke these words, their meaning still holds.  It’s undeniable that that our lives makes our words more believable.  And actions do indeed often speak louder than words.

Discussion Questions

  • How do we respond to God’s call?
  • What are ways that we share the good news of Christ with others?
  • What does it mean to put our faith into action?
  • What do these words by St. Francis mean to you?

Activity Suggestion

Brainstorm ways that we can use science to help our neighbors and our world. Write these ideas out on band-aids and stick them to a picture of a broken globe (or get an actual broken globe and repair it with the band-aids).  Some say that individual actions are indeed just small band-aids on the great problems of our day (global ecological collapse, hunger many, war of all types).  Discuss how the way of Jesus might address the underlying causes of suffering.

Closing Prayer

God of grace and mercy, thank you for the gift of science, scientists, and the ability to save lives through their work.  Thank you for helping us to share the good news of your love and serve our neighbors through scientists like Kati and Drew.  Please be with those who still need healing and care.  Help us to be your hands and feet of love.  Amen.