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January 26, 2014–Are We Running Out of Fish?

Contributed by John Wertz, Blacksburg, VA


Warm-up Question

A few weeks ago, a researcher posted a video which proves that fish, don’t simply get caught, sometimes they do the catching.  Take a look at this video of  a fish catching a flying bird.  Do you think it is real or a fake?

Are We Running Out of Fish?

shutterstock_130183616editAccording to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, over 33 million adults in the United  States go fishing during the course of a year.  For many of those individuals, fishing is a source of relaxation and entertainment, but fishing is also a vital source of food for families around the world.   A study produced by the U.N Food and Agriculture  Organization revealed that the worldwide fish harvest in 2012 amounted to nearly 90 million tons of fish.

Given the amount of fish being caught in the oceans and harvested from fish farms on a yearly basis, there is genuine concern in some areas that over the next 50 years, the world’s fish population will diminish to dangerous levels.   Some groups like the World Wildlife Federation are working to raise awareness of the dangers of  poor management of fishers, overfishing and destructive fishing techniques which they claim have put over 53% of the world’s fisheries at risk (  Other groups, like Marine Stewardship Council  are working with fishers, retailers, processors, and consumers to encourage practices which safeguard the world’s oceans and create sustainable supplies of fish and seafood.   Hopefully by raising awareness and encouraging good stewardship of the world’s fish stocks, oceans, lakes and rivers,  there will be an abundant supply of fish to meet the dietary and economic needs of our ever growing world.

Discussion Questions

  •  If you were going on a fishing trip, where would you like to go and why?
  • How might your choices affect rivers, lakes, oceans and fish?  What could you do to be a better steward of these gifts.
  • Share examples of ways that people work together to care for creation.

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, January 26, 2014 (Third Sunday After Epiphany)


Isaiah 9:1-4

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Matthew 4:12-23

(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

When most of us think of fishing, we probably think of a person either sitting in a boat holding a rod with a single line in the water or we think of a person standing in the edge of a stream, casting a bait covered hook into the water.  Unless you happen to be a part of a commercial fishing operation, very few people today would describe fishing as something you do with a net, but in Jesus’ time things were a little different.  For Peter, Andrew and the other fisherman around the Sea of Galilee, fishing meant casting a wide, broad net and pulling in whatever the net touched.  Fishing wasn’t about gathering one fish at a time.  Fishing was about  gathering as many fish as possible with the cast of a net.  When Jesus says to Peter and Andrew “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people,” he is inviting them to join him in a ministry that will cast out a broad net and potentially touch the lives of countless people.

When Jesus says, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people,” he is inviting Peter, Andrew and all of God’s people to join him in proclaiming the good news of God’s love for the world.  When Jesus says, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people,” he is inviting Peter, Andrew and all of God’s people to join him in gathering people in from a sinful and broken way of life so that they can experience the healing of a life in Christ.  When Jesus says, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people,” he is inviting Peter, Andrew and all of God’s people to join him in spreading a message of hope and salvation to a world that is searching for a future.   The fishing Jesus invites us to do is not about finding the right bait to trick someone into getting close to faith, so that the church can get its hooks into them.  The fishing that Jesus invites us to do is about gathering together God’s people from far and wide so they can be touched by the unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness of God.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Jesus invited Peter and Andrew to join him proclaiming God’s love to the world?
  • How many people do you think are touched by your ministry in the world during a week?  How many people do you think are touched by the ministry of the people in your congregation during a week or a year?
  • Jesus uses images from everyday life to help people understand God and God’s mission to love and bless the world.  When he invited Peter and Andrew to follow him, Jesus talked about fishing because they were fisherman.  If Jesus was inviting you to follow him, what example would he use to help you understand what he was inviting you to do?

Activity Suggestions

  • Lay a bed sheet on the floor and place a ball in the middle of the sheet.  Invite the group to grab hold of the corners of the sheet and throw the ball into the air as high as possible using the sheet.   Now invite one person to try and match that result by themselves.  Talk about the ways that we can accomplish more when we work together.
  • Jesus invites Peter and Andrew to help cast God’s story into the world.  Think of one way that you can share the story of God’s love with the world this week.

Closing Prayer

Loving God, you call us to follow you and fish for people.  Inspire us to be your hearts and hands and voices in the world and help us to use the gifts you have given us to make your love known to the world.  Amen.

January 19, 2014–Who Needs Christ?

Contributed by Scott Mims, Virginia Beach, VA


Warm-up Questions

  • Who is the most famous or important person you have ever met, and what was the experience like? Or alternatively, if you could spend an afternoon with any one real person, currently alive or from the past, who would it be and why?
  • What is the most meaningful part or worship for you?  What makes it so meaningful?

Who Needs Christ?

shutterstock_124884124editAmidst all of the holiday advertising last month, one Times Square billboard drew national attention.  Sponsored by American Atheists, its message sparked a lot of coverage and debate, both in the news and online, with one New York State Senator calling for it to come down. The following is an excerpt from the press release which accompanied the billboard’s launch:

Using motion graphics, the billboard proclaims, “Who needs Christ during Christmas?” A hand crosses out the word “Christ” and the word “NOBODY” appears. The display then says “Celebrate the true meaning of Xmas” and offers a series of cheery words: family, friends, charity, food, snow, and more. The commercial ends with a jovial “Happy Holidays!” from American Atheists and displays the organization’s website.

Now that January has come and our schedules and lives are getting back to some sort of post-holiday “normal,” it may be hard to think in terms of Christmas. But the question posed by the billboard is an important one for us to think about.  “Who needs Christ during Christmas?”  Or even more simply, “Who needs Christ at all?”  Increasingly people in our culture agree with the sign’s message.  Roughly one fifth of adults in the U.S. – and a third of young adults under 30 – claim no religious affiliation. Yet the witness of the Scriptures is that God is indeed present and active in our world and in our lives, and so during these Sundays after Epiphany we focus on exploring who the baby in the manger is and why and how his birth is good news for all people.


Discussion Questions

  • What are your reactions to the message of this billboard?  What do you think its sponsors are trying to say and how do you feel about that?
  • Many people these days claim to be “spiritual but not religious.”  What do you think that means?
  • What are some of the reasons that people might have for not being “religious?”  For not being spiritual?
  • Can you be a follower of Jesus without being religious?  Without being spiritual?
  • Have you ever experienced a negative reaction or “push back” from other people because of your faith?  If so, how did you handle the situation?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, January 19, 2014 (Second Sunday after Epiphany)

Isaiah 49:1-7

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

John 1:29-42

(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

Who is John the Baptist?  Who is Jesus?  Who are we?  These are some of the questions that John (the gospel writer) addresses today as we continue our journey through the Epiphany season.

So first, who is John the Baptist?  Despite his great popularity and powerful appeal as a preacher and prophet, John is not the Messiah.  We hear this quite plainly, both in the opening words of the gospel (Jn. 1:6-9) and in John the Baptist’s own reply to those who come seeking to know what he is up to (Jn. 1:19-23).  Rather, John is “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’” As such, his divine purpose is to reveal to Israel – and ultimately to the world – the Messiah (Jn. 1:31)

What then does John reveal?  First, that the person whom he was sent to make known is Jesus and that Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Two times John uses this image to describe Jesus in today’s gospel.  It is an image that has connections both to the sacrificial system surrounding the Jewish Temple and to the Exodus event in which the blood of a lamb caused the final plague to pass over the households of the Israelites.  What’s more, Jesus will be crucified for the sake of the sin of the world on the day in which the Passover lambs are slaughtered (Jn. 19:14, 31, 42). This central part of Jesus’ identity is what we often sing about during Holy Communion after the bread and wine have been consecrated: “Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us….”

Jesus is also the one upon whom the Holy Spirit descends and remains.  Unlike last week’s gospel reading from Matthew, we do not actually get to witness Jesus’ baptism in John’s gospel.  Instead, we hear John the Baptist’s witness – his testimony about Jesus – as sort of a flashback.  For John himself, this was the sign that he was looking for (Jn. 1:33).  Not only is the Holy Spirit the marker of Jesus’ true identity and the power of God at work in and through him, the Spirit is the gift the Jesus gives to those who believe and follow him (Jn. 20:21-23).

Finally, in terms of who Jesus is, John makes an astounding claim: “And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”  In my congregation we read the opening section of John’s gospel as part of our candlelight services on Christmas Eve.  In a darkened sanctuary illuminated by the glow of a hundred or so candles we hear about the Word of God becoming flesh, about the One who is the “true light” of the world, about God’s only Son through whom we have all received grace upon grace.  John the Baptist points to Jesus as being this One.  It is a claim, of course, that many today deny.

Which brings us to the third question this passage addresses: Who are we?  In the second part of our gospel reading John the Baptist’s witness – his sharing of his faith in who Jesus is – moves two of his own followers to find out more about this “Lamb of God.”  Seeing them following him, Jesus asks them, “What are you looking for?” For all who read John’s gospel, this is more than simply a casual question.  It is a question that we are asked, too.  When it comes to the future, when it comes to our lives, when it comes to Jesus, what are we looking for?  And, like the two disciples, are we ready to accept Jesus’ invitation to us to “Come and see?”

So, what did they “see” when they were with Jesus that day?  We aren’t told, only that, whatever it was, it led these two seekers to a point where it was no longer John’s witness but their own experience of being with Jesus that caused them to follow him.  One of them, Andrew, is so moved that he, in turn, also becomes a witness, inviting his brother, Simon to come and see.  Simon, who we also know as Peter, became one of the most central disciples in the whole gospel story.  At this point there is a lot yet to happen before he truly begins to understand what it means for Jesus to be Lamb of God and Messiah.

Perhaps that is also something for us to take away from our gospel for this week.  It is not perfection in understanding or completeness of knowledge that John (the gospel writer) is aiming for in his account of God’s great love for us in Jesus.  John is aiming for faith – that we might come to believe in Jesus ourselves and, in believing, to discover true and abundant life.  Here, by the Jordan River, he looks back to the very beginning, to the mysterious and powerful proclamation of his opening words, and, at the same time, forward to the cross, to the very place where the image of Jesus as Lamb of God finds its fulfillment.

Discussion Questions


  • The following are some of the titles and epithets that people have given to Jesus.  Which one(s) is (are) most meaningful to you? Why?


Son of God           Emmanuel                   Prince of Peace           Man or Sorrows

Good Shepherd     Lamb of God              Friend of Sinners        Teacher

Lord                      Light of the World      Bread of Life              Messiah


  • Who in your own life has shown / brought you to Jesus?  In what ways have they witnessed to their faith?
  • John the Baptist’s role was to point other people to Jesus.  If, as they say, actions speak louder than words, what are some practical, real-life ways that you might help other people know about Jesus and experience his love?
  • Why do you need Jesus?

Activity Suggestion

Act out the gospel lesson.  Try to imagine why Andrew is so eager to introduce others to Jesus.  What about Jesus do you think made him so excited that he couldn’t wait to tell Simon Peter?  Have you ever had the chance to invite someone else to “Come and see?”  If so, how did it go? Have those acting other parts give typical reactions to talking about Jesus with friends and acquaintances.  Talk about how this story might be seen as a model for doing evangelism.

Closing Prayer

Gracious and loving God, in the waters of baptism you name us and claim us and make us your very own.  Thank you for your love and for the forgiveness and new life that is ours through Jesus. As we seek to be his followers in our often messy and complicated world, place into our lives people and events who will remind us of who and whose we truly are.  Help us, in turn, to be living signs of your love and grace in the lives of those around us.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

October 6, 2013–Are Christians Christ-like?

Contributed by Jen Krausz, Bethlehem, PA

Warm-up Question

What do you consider great faith or devotion to look like? Share an example with the group.

Are Christians Christ-like?

shutterstock_125972684editThroughout his ministry, Jesus repeatedly criticized the religious leaders of his time, the Pharisees, for being self-righteous and judgmental of others, while not seeing their own sins. The Pharisees loudly condemned people for breaking God’s laws and made it clear that they were different, were more righteous. Jesus, on the other hand, did not hesitate to spend time with sinners and eat with them if it gave him an opportunity to show God’s love to them and gently encourage them to follow God’s ways. With sinners who knew their broken state, Jesus was merciful.  On the arrogant Pharisees, he heaped contempt and judgment.

A recent study by Barna Group shows that while some Christians model Christ-like attitudes and behaviors, many are more like the Pharisees in their viewpoints and actions. 51% of the self-identified Christians surveyed had behaviors and attitudes consistent with those of the Pharisees, such as avoiding those people they consider to be sinful and thinking that “people who follow God’s rules are better than people who do not.”

Only 14% of self-identified Christians had behaviors and attitudes consistent with those Jesus modeled during his life (as written about in the scriptures), such as caring about persons for who they are rather than what they’ve done and having compassion for people doing immoral things. A slightly higher percentage, about 21%, had a mixture of attitudes and behaviors, some Christ-like and some Pharisaic.

In a time when many people outside the Christian church consider Christians to be hypocrites, it is significant to consider whether our attitudes and actions mirror Jesus or a group for whom he had many harsh words.


Discussion Questions

  • When you look around at the Christians you know, do they seem more like the Pharisees (focused on rules and appearances) or like Jesus (focused on God’s love and on showing compassion to others)?
  • What steps do you think your church could take to be more Christ-like?
  • Many non-Christians see Christians as being hypocrites. How do you think Jesus would answer such an accusation?
  • What is the difference between accepting a person as they are and accepting an immoral behavior? Can we as Christians “love the sinner but hate the sin”? How?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, October 6, 2013 (Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost)

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

2 Timothy 1:1-14

Luke 17:5-10

(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


To understand these verses, we need to realize that saying that we have faith and acting according to our faith are two totally different things. When Jesus tells the disciples that if they had faith as tiny as a mustard seed they could make a tree throw itself into the ocean, he isn’t talking about reciting the Apostles Creed.

The kind of faith Jesus talks about is faith that gets into your life and changes you from the inside out, faith that compels you to treat those society thinks are the lowest of the low with dignity and respect. He means faith that leads you to stand up for what is right without putting down those you think are wrong, faith that takes you far out of your comfort zone to be the hands and feet of Jesus to all those people who think Christians are hypocrites.

This kind of faith isn’t primarily about doing things, although it ends up that way. This kind of faith is about being someone who gets to know Jesus in the most personal, give-away-your-heart kind of way. It’s about becoming a person who does what Jesus would do because you just love Jesus so much that you can’t help but follow in his footsteps. It’s about transforming from a self-centered person into a God-centered person. God can really work through a person like that.

The verses about the servant (7-10) don’t appear to have much to do with these verses about faith. A deeper look, however, does show a connection. Jesus is making a point here. He’s saying we can’t do good deeds and think that God somehow owes us some kind of reward. That’s not how God’s kingdom works. We can get caught up in the “servant” or “slave” language and start thinking it doesn’t apply to us today. We don’t have slaves and not many people have servants anymore either.

In the time when this was written, a servant was someone who was totally devoted to another person. Is it making more sense now? That’s us, or it should be us—totally devoted to God, right? In our devotion to God, do we feel like God should thank us or reward us? It’s good to remember that in reality, we are all unworthy of what God has already given us. When we get to thinking we deserve rewards for doing what God wants, we can’t focus on knowing Jesus and following him. The focus shifts back to ourselves, and God can’t use us as well.

Both these passages, seemingly very different, show what it is like to be a disciple–challenging, difficult, and yet so rewarding.

Discussion Questions

  • If faith only counts when it is backed up by actions, do you consider yourself a person with great faith or little faith? Why?
  • Why is it so difficult for the church as a whole to follow Jesus’ example?
  • Why is it difficult for you to follow Jesus’ example?
  • What steps could you take to be more Christ-like in your daily life? Do these steps seem difficult or easy? Why?

Activity Suggestions

  • In most parts of the country, the weather is changing from summer into fall. What a great time to take a prayer walk, enjoy God’s creation, and draw near to God. Thank God for making everything, and ask God to reveal what you can do to impact the world around you for Christ.
  • With your class or youth group, explore the attitudes Jesus would have toward different groups of people you come into contact with regularly. What would Jesus think of the cheerleaders? Of the football players? Of the kids on the fringe of middle or high school life? How do you think Jesus would want you to approach them with the love of God? Try to come up with some concrete ideas for actions to take.

Closing Prayer

Lord God, bring us into an ever deeper relationship with you. We pray that we would allow that relationship to transform us to be more like your son, Jesus. Help us to take Jesus’ attitudes and actions into the world around us and love people with your love. Amen.

March 31, 2013–Treasure in Plain Sight

Contributed by Sylvia Alloway, Granada Hills, CA


Warm-up Question

Have you ever been wrong about someone? Have you ever rejected a person as odd, stupid, or untrustworthy and later discovered that you were mistaken? What was the situation? What happened?

Treasure in Plain Sight

shutterstock_12168025editThe white bowl with the pointy, leaf-like pattern shaped into it had sat on the mantle in a New York state home for several years. The family had paid three dollars for it at a tag sale. A belated curiosity about the trinket’s origin led the family to an assessor and a big surprise. Their humble little bowl was 1,000-year-old Chinese treasure, an example of “Ding” pottery from the Northern Song dynasty.

Given to the famous auction house Sotheby’s to sell, it was expected to fetch around $200,000. A bidding war among four art collectors resulted in a price ten times that much, $2.2 million.


Discussion Questions

  • There is an old saying: He knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. What does this mean? What is the difference between price and value?
  • Is there anything in your life that you value, even though it is not worth much money? What? Why?
  • Think about what people without Christ value, compared to what Christians value. Is there a difference? What is it?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, March 31, 2013 (Resurrection of Our Lord Easter Day)


Acts 10:34-43

1 Corinthians 15:19-26

Luke 24:1-12

(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

There are two Bible stories that are so familiar to Christians that we hardly pay attention to the words when we hear them. One is the story of Jesus birth, the other is the story of his resurrection. These two miracles are the heart of Christianity, special occasions in the church. We give thanks, sing some songs, and go about our business.

But think about these words: “There were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night.”

Um, yeah. So?

Shepherds were considered unclean by upper class Jews. They were not invited into homes. They were not allowed to testify in court. They were outcasts. Yet, these despised people were the first to hear about Jesus’ birth. God valued them and their strong, simple faith. He entrusted them with the news of his Son’s arrival. Sure enough, they ran to tell anyone they could find that the Messiah was born.

In today’s lesson we read the familiar story of the women finding the empty tomb. Women, too, were outcasts, thought inferior to men. Women, too, could not testify in court, because they would not be believed. (Notice how the disciples react when they hear the women’s testimony.) Yet God again chooses outcasts as the first to behold the culmination of his great plan of salvation, the greatest event in the history of the world. Again he gives them a message to tell. He shows how much he values those whom the world rejects.

God does not choose people who think they are worth more than others to spread the news of his salvation. He values the humble, the willing, the faithful, as if they were million-dollar treasures. He paid for them, for us, a price immeasurably greater than money. He paid with his lifeblood.

Let us run and tell!

Discussion Questions

  • In today’s world humility is not considered a very valuable trait. Why is this so?
  • What is the value of humility? What can humble people accomplish that those who think they are great can’t?
  • Christians are often considered outcasts in the non-Christian world. How can we follow the example of the shepherds and the women in telling others the Good News?

Activity Suggestions

  •  Think of a way the class can tell the Good News of Christ’s resurrection. Do it.
  • Talk about what makes a person an outcast among young people. How we can value outcasts and not reject them as the world does?
  • Sing any resurrection song

Closing Prayer

God of the humble, Savior of the outcast, we ask for true humility. Convict us when we put someone down or leave someone out. May the joy of your salvation fill us so that others can see and know that there is hope in you. In Our Savior’s Holy Name, Amen.

January 6, 2013–Keeping the Faith On the Journey

Contributed by Jen Krausz, Bethlehem, PA


Warm-up Question

Do you think a Christian counselor can successfully counsel someone of another faith? Why or why not?

Keeping the Faith On the Journey

Bentley, a British automaker, fired its Christian chaplain of ten years just days before Christmas because they felt he might make workers of other faiths uncomfortable. Reverend Francis Cooke had visited the Crewe, Chester factory once a week for ten years before he was fired.

None of the workers ever complained about Cooke and, in fact, have started a petition to bring him back to the factory. Retired employee John Austin, 67, said, “He was there for a lot of people. I know one individual who was feeling suicidal, but Francis turned him around. He was a very important man at the factory.”

Cooke offered counseling services to workers of all faiths, not just Christians. He was employed by Bentley; it was his only paid work. “My position is to help people and not just those who are Christians,” Cooke said in an interview. “’It is not just about offering religious services. I provide counseling to workers who have stresses at home such as broken marriages. I would spend a few minutes with each person which would be enough to help them feel better.”

“Everyone is really angry about it,” one worker said to a British newspaper. “To do this just before Christmas is shocking.”

A Bentley spokesperson stated, “We have a wide range of faiths and want to take a multi-faith outlook. It would be very difficult to have somebody from each faith.”


Discussion Questions

  • Do you think it was right for Bentley to fire Rev. Cooke? Why or why not?
  • Can you think of a better way to resolve the problem while allowing Rev. Cooke to keep his job?
  • How should a chaplain treat someone of a different faith?
  • Should Bentley reinstate Rev. Cooke if most or all of their employees want him back?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, January 6, 2013 (Epiphany of our Lord)

Isaiah 60:1-6

Ephesians 3:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12

(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

If you have grown up attending church, you probably take the story of Jesus’ birth for granted. You are very familiar with the journey to Bethlehem, the birth in a manger, the shepherds being notified by angels, and the wise men coming to give expensive gifts to the baby. In reality many improbable events surround the birth of Jesus. The wise men of this part of the gospel account came from nations that persecuted the Jews for centuries, yet they had enough faith in the star they saw to follow it for at least a year. They were obviously familiar with the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus, even though they did not belong to the same culture or belief system.

Why did they want to see the baby king? A commentary suggests that it was because they saw his birth as the beginning of a new age of peace between their nations and the Israelites.  The wise men wanted to give gifts to the new king, but they accidentally let Herod know about the birth of one who (he thought) could put him out of a job. Understandably, Herod was threatened.

In spite of the threat their questions created for baby Jesus, the Wise Men were also the ones through whom God worked to save Jesus from that threat. Once they offered their gifts and worship, they disobeyed orders and avoided Herod so they wouldn’t have to tell him where they had found their king.

This account shows that God can work in the lives of people with any amount of faith and understanding. Indeed, we may have very little understanding of God’s purposes, but God uses those who are willing to follow to accomplish those purposes.

May you look back on the story of your life and find that God has used you mightily in accomplishing great things in the world, even though you might not have understood it fully at the time.

Discussion Questions

  •  So much violence is the result of misunderstandings between people. What misunderstandings led to Herod wanting to kill the baby Jesus?
  • Those in charge of the Bentley factory may have something in common with Herod in that they feel threatened by the presence Christ in their factory (working through Rev. Cooke). How is that a misunderstanding? Is there any way to resolve such a misunderstanding? If so, how?
  • Can you look back and see a time when God worked in your life or in someone else’s? How does that make you feel to realize it now? How did it feel when you were going through it?
  • Do you think it’s better to keep God out of workplaces and schools? Why or why not? Is that really even possible; what do people mean when they talk about “keeping God out of schools…or workplaces”?
  •  One reader of a news article about Rev. Cooke’s firing stated that in England, “multi-faith outlook usually means no Christians.” Why do you think people would omit Christianity, the faith with the largest amount of followers?

Activity Suggestions

Write a brief letter to the editor stating your opinion about Rev. Cooke’s firing. Send or email it to your local newspaper or to a British newspaper that has covered the story (google can give some of those).

Closing Prayer

Lord God, thank you for being a God who enters our lives personally, first through Jesus, and even now through the Holy Spirit. Help us to understand other faiths well enough to bridge chasms, continuing to show your love in all situations. And show us the ways in which you are working in our lives every day. We praise you and thank you in Jesus’ name, Amen.