Danny Stone, Marion, IA

Warm-up Question

Share the story about a disagreement between you and your parent/guardian/caregiver.  Who won the fight?  How did you feel?  How did they feel?

Parents Just Don’t Understand


In the Grammy Award winning teen rant, Will Smith raps that “parents just don’t understand.”  It was true in 1988, true now and true when families gathered around the fire to roast a mastodon

Imagine for a moment a student and father battling.  Dad is a strong willed and ambitious owner of a construction company.  He has worked hard all his life and dreams that his son will be a lawyer.  Mike just finished college and hates the career that is father has chosen.  He feels anxious and lost. In the past year, Mike has seen two friends die, leaving heavy questions on his heart.

While traveling between law school and home, Mike’s car hydroplanes in a thunderstorm, spins wildly and narrowly misses a truck.  His car lands in the ditch.  With his life passing before his eyes, Mike decides to follow his calling.  He vows to quit school and join the Peace Corps.

Elements of this story may sound familiar.  We have all heard stories about children and parents not agreeing about college and career.  Who hasn’t felt pressure to excel?  This story becomes completely familiar when we replace character names and a few details.  The father’s real name is Hans, and he owns a small copper mine.  The student is Martin; he is frightened by a lightning strike on the way to University of Erfurt and promises to become a monk.  The year is 1505.  Yes, Martin Luther’s father wanted him to be a lawyer, not the scholar-priest who led the Reformation.

Discussion Questions

  • Have you had “lightening” in your life that points you in a new direction?
  • What do your parents want for your future?
  • Share the story of a time that you were mad, angry or frustrated with your parents.
  • Discuss the difference between winning an argument and forging an agreement.
  • What can your church, congregation and faith do to help improve family relationships?

Reformation Sunday

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Romans 3:19-28

John 8:31-36

(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

Martin Luther’s childhood under the thumb of a domineering father a left him with deep scars.  The church of his time offered little comfort.  He might have been free of his earthly father but feared eternal punishments from his father in heaven.  Luther felt crippling fear but found hope in the Gospel.  Today is Reformation Sunday — the day we celebrate Luther’s movement that brought the church back to Christ’s unswerving message of forgiveness, salvation, and freedom.

John’s Gospel promises freedom from slavery.  Many of us might say like the disciples, “Wait, we are not slaves.”  Slavery is much deeper and more common than the obvious.  Jesus was not talking about the slavery we know from history.  Slavery is common, everyday, and afflicts all of us.  On an elemental level, we are all slaves to our fear of death.  We may be slaves to drugs and alcohol.  We may eat too much, be forced to follow the group, have crippling debt, bow down to obsessive behaviors.  Slavery is everywhere.

The truth of Christ’s death and resurrection frees us from sin, death, fear, and anxiety.  We do not have to live as slaves.  Luther’s movement sought to enable Christians to take up the Bible, so that we may discover this truth.  Once we are free, we can live in communion with Christ, the world, and even our families. The truth sets us free.

Discussion Questions

  •  In what ways do you feel enslaved?
  • How does life in Christ give us freedom from inappropriate expectations of others?
  • One reason we observe Reformation Sunday is to remember that the church is in constant need of being re-formed, created anew.  From what does the church need to be freed in our day so that it can more effectively serve Christ?

Activity Suggestions


Bookmark these items in advance.  Have small groups review a video.  Discuss and share with the large group what each clip can teach about children, parents, and family relationships.

“Father and Son” by Cat Stevens:

“Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin:

Bill Cosby on childhood:

“Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift:

“Daughters” by John Mayer

“Butterfly Fly Away” by Hannah Montana

“Because of You” by Kelly Clarkson

“Cleanin’ Out My Closet” (clean version) by Eminem

Closing Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, parent of all, bless our families and aid our growth.  Help us find freedom through the death, resurrection and forgiveness of your son, Jesus Christ.  In your name we pray, Amen.