CeCee Mills, Greensboro, NC

Warm-up Questions

  • What is the difference between being persistent and being annoying?
  • How do you decide when to push harder and when to pull back?


I keep thinking about the people’s determination in the Ukraine. It has been nearly eight months since the invasion began. Ukraine’s population is forty-four million compared to Russia’s one hundred forty-four million. I watch President Volodymyr Zelensky and I feel inspired. I am sure it was not a surprise that they were attacked – but I wonder what the citizens feel. I assume they feel displaced, angry, scared, and untethered. I imagine they also feel determined and proud. This giant has attacked them, and it has not been as easy as Russia had hoped. Russian reservists have had to be called up and draft age men are running for the border. What makes the Ukrainians continue to resist?

I imagine they are aware of the danger. From media reports, we clearly see that the threat is both tangible and imminent. Still, they have hope. They are convinced that they can stand. I imagine a lot of their confidence comes from the strength of their allies. They know that they have support beyond their borders from countries with plenty of resources and strong militaries. There is something noble in standing your ground and in standing with an ally.

 I wonder most about those who are displaced – especially those who had to leave family and friends behind. They know that their world will never be the same. I wonder how their tenacity helps them adapt. I imagine there are many brave steps that they have taken into an unfamiliar world. The images of the youth captured in these photos shows both the pain and possibility of their resilience . 

Discussion Questions

  • What are the stories you have heard or seen about young people from the Ukraine? 
  • What are there different opinions about refugees and migrants in your congregation and community? What do you perceive is the role of Christians in helping these neighbors?
  • How have you seen or aided in welcoming refugees or migrants in your local area? 

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 32:22-31

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Luke 18:1-8

(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 C at Lectionary Readings.)

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

Gospel Reflection

This text focuses on the persistence of the widow. The writer invites us to see the power available through repeated asking. It’s not mystical or divine but simple human tenacity. God wants us to understand that persistent prayer is important. Jesus uses a determined widow and unwilling judge to show the possibilities with even unsympathetic listeners are high if you are persistent. To that point, Jesus recognizes that we are loved by a caring God, and if an unsympathetic listener will cave to persistent asking, how much more will God who loves us?

God desires a deep relationship with each of us. God knows that in that relationship we will have clarity on how-to walk-in righteousness. Jesus wants us to understand that God is with us and ready to give us what we need to accomplish God’s mission. We have the greatest, strongest, and the most loving ally in all of creation.

Discussion Questions

  • When in your life have you experienced an abrupt permanent change? 
  • What did you lose in the change? 
  • How did the change draw out the best in who you were at the time? 
  • How did you heal from the difficult parts of the change? 
  • In what ways were you resilient and/or persistent? 
  • How did God use what happened to help you mature in faith?

Activity Suggestions

  • On a poster, using sticky notes, invite youth to write words that describes what it means to be a persistent disciple. Have a discussion about why a disciple needs to be persistent and what helps them be persistent. At the end of the time, invite youth to take a word with them that will help them be a persistent disciple.
  • Invite the youth to imagine that they had to permanently leave their home and only could take three possessions with them. Have them discuss what they would choose and why in triads. Close with asking them how they can support youth who are new, immigrants, or refugees in a way that helped their feeling of loss.
  • For seven days have the group offer the same prayer (two or three sentences) on an issue of their choosing, ten times a day, out loud and in the presence of at least one other person. Use the time in youth group to decide what should they be praying about over those seven days. The only requirement is that it is a prayer Jesus would be pleased to hear being prayed.

Closing Prayer

God, help us to be persistent disciples. Give us the passion, determination, and excitement to daily ask for all that we need to complete your mission. Amen.