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May 5, 2013–Standardized Test

Contributed by Seth Moland-Kovash, Palatine, IL

Warm-up Question

Are you a patient person? Do you find it easy or hard to wait?

Standardized Test

shutterstock_124800556editThe Veterans Administration is the branch of our government responsible for providing benefits (medical, educational, housing, etc) for veterans of the armed forces. One of the most significant jobs is disability benefits.  If a person is injured during their military service, they are entitled to financial compensation. There is currently a very significant backlog of veterans who are waiting to find out if they will get benefits and to receive those benefits. Over 200,000 veterans have been waiting at least one year for a decision.

General Eric Shinseki, who is the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the head of the Veterans Administration, recently announced new plans and strategies to clear the backlog. He has also introduced plans that he hopes will allow all future claims to be cleared within 125 days, much less than the wait currently experienced. This story ( explains some of the reasons for the long backlog and what Shinseki and the VA plan to do about it.


Discussion Questions

  •  Have you ever had to wait as long as a year for something? What did it feel like?
  • What do you think the rest of us can do to help veterans who are waiting for these benefits and decisions?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, May 5, 2013 (Sixth Sunday of Easter)

Acts 16:9-15

Revelation 21:10, 22–22:5

John 5:1-9 

(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

In John 5:1-9, Jesus meets a man who had been waiting a long time for benefits, for healing and health care. Of course, things worked a bit differently in his time. There wasn’t a Veterans Administration to write a check, but there was a pool where people waited and found healing when they were dipped into the waters. The problem for this man was that the healing only happened when the water was stirred up, and whenever that happened, other people who could actually walk ran into the water ahead of him and blocked his path. His infirmity kept him from getting the help he needed. And so he had been ill for 38 years.

He specifically says that “I have no one to put me into the pool.” If he had had friends or family or someone with compassion nearby who could lower him into the pool, his own inability to walk would not have mattered. But he was alone. His suffering was intensified by his isolation. So Jesus told him to stand up and walk. And he did.

Discussion Questions

  • Who in our world or in your community is isolated? How does that keep them from getting the healing they need?
  • What do you think the rest of us can do to help people who feel they cannot access healing because of their isolation?

Activity Suggestions

Visit shut-ins from your congregation in coordination with your pastor. Bring them flowers or just show up and smile. They will love the visit.

Closing Prayer

Good and gracious God, we thank you for the healing you bring and the ways you help us to bridge gaps and to reach out to one another. Amen.