Skip to content
ELCA Blogs

Faith Lens

July 29-August 5, 2009 – Signs of the times

Contributed by Pastor Seth Moland-Kovash
All Saints Lutheran Church
Palatine, IL

Warm-up Question:  What is your favorite billboard that you’ve ever seen? Why did it catch your eye and why do you remember it?

Signs can be literal things that have words and pictures on them to give us a message. They may be billboards advertising a certain store or product. They may be political signs telling us who we should vote for. They may be signs at your church telling you about the next big event.

But signs can also be metaphorical. They can be things that happen that give us a message. We sometimes talk about things as signs of the times. For instance, it is a sign of the times that you probably do not have a record player in your bedroom. It’s a sign of the times that major world events sometimes get reported on Twitter before television.

Whenever there is bad news (economy, war, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina) we obsessively look for “signs of recovery.” For example, this story about Hurricane Katrina recovery talks about the rebuilding of houses in New Orleans on raised platforms. Some homes are being rebuilt with the first story being all garage or something else before you get to any actual living space.

These rebuilt homes are a sign of recovery for New Orleans.

Discussion Questions

  1. If you traveled to New Orleans for the Youth Gathering, what were signs of recovery and new life that you saw there?
  2. What would be signs that would make you really say that New Orleans had recovered from Hurricane Katrina?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday,  August 2, 2009.

(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 B at Lectionary Readings.)

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

Gospel Reflection

The crowds that gathered around Jesus wanted to see a sign. They wanted something they could look at and they’d know what it meant, just as clearly as we see the golden arches and know what that means.

They followed Jesus to watch all that he did, all his healings and all his teachings, and tried to interpret the signs. But just as it is hard for us to sometimes interpret the signs (Has New Orleans recovered completely, still recovering, or not recovering at all?), it was hard for them to understand the signs they were seeing. They missed the point. They asked for more.

In the Gospel of John, the things that Jesus says are sometimes hard to understand. He isn’t perfectly clear all the time. In this case, he wasn’t either. He didn’t explain all the signs to the crowds. He didn’t tell them what the signs meant. In fact, he kind of acted like a sign. Like a sign on the road points the way to an exit or to a gas station or a restaurant, Jesus pointed. Jesus pointed to God. He said that it was God who gives us the bread and everything we need. It’s God who makes it so we are never hungry or thirsty again.

Jesus used his teachings and his miracles, and the way he lived his life, to point the way to God, like a sign. Who and what do you point to?

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think Jesus was trying to point people toward?
  2. If your life were a sign, where would it point people? Toward God? Would people know about God if they looked at your life? What does you life say about your Creator?

Activity Suggestion

Use your youth group to become a human sign. What do you want to show the rest of your congregation? Think of a message. Perhaps it’s something about being grateful to God. Perhaps it’s something about service to others. Then SHOW them. No words allowed. Be creative. 

Closing Prayer

Good and gracious God, use our lives as signs to point the world toward you and your love. Amen.