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February 11-18, 2009 – FEMA, National Guard aid recovery from Midwest ice storm

Warm-up Question: On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being most dependent), how dependent do you think you are on electricity for your daily life?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continued to hand out emergency food and medical supplies in the aftermath of a multi-state ice storm that has killed 55 people so far. Over 150,000 people were still without power a week after the storm damaged Kentucky’s power grid and knocked out power to 1.3 million homes in several states.

Kentucky’s entire available National Guard has also been deployed to help repair power lines, remove debris, and distribute generators to keep essential services like hospitals and water services running. Emergency service workers are also beginning to go door-to-door in the more rural areas, checking on people trapped in their homes by debris or unable to get to shelters.

Amid the destruction of trees and power outages, rural neighbors are coming together to help each other, sharing food, blankets, and lanterns, and in some cases, knowledge. Kentucky’s 8,500 Amish population, which shuns modern conveniences like electricity, have been helping their neighbors figure out how to live without power in the cold winter temperatures.

Of the 55 deaths blamed on the storm so far, most are from hypothermia, traffic accidents, or carbon monoxide poisoning caused by improper indoor use of portable heaters and generators.

Discussion Questions

  • What would your first priority be if your power went out in cold weather?
  • How do you typically handle emergency situations? (i.e., panic, problem solve, try to get help, make a plan, etc.)
  • What do you think is the best response to an emergency situation?
  • Who is the first person you’d contact or try to reach for help in an emergency?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, February 15, 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

I wonder how many treatments the man with leprosy (people of Jesus’ time thought this skin disease was contagious) tried before coming to see Jesus. I wonder how desperate he had to be to come before Jesus “begging on his knees.”

I don’t know about your life, but there have been times where I have been that desperate. When I was 16, I became pregnant. Yes, I was still in high school. I was ashamed. I was terrified. I was desperate. Maybe you have been in a situation where your own choices or just a bad situation have put you in a corner, seemingly with nowhere to go.

Right now, in Kentucky, I wonder if there are people who cannot leave their homes, but are running out of food and ways to keep warm. They must be desperate too.

I hope that in our times of desperation, we can get on our knees like the man with leprosy and ask Jesus to come into our lives and do what only he can do. I’m not saying that Jesus will take away all our problems and fix everything in our lives. That will not be the case.

But, he will be with us as comforter, strengthener, healer, and friend. He will make a difference in our situations and our lives. I am living proof that this is true. When I was pregnant, I asked for God’s help in what seemed like an insurmountable task for a 16 year old: raising a child. My daughter is now 18 years old. She has been an incredible blessing to me. She has also opened me up to many other blessings in my life: parents who helped and supported me in every possible way, the grace of my church in loving me and my child, and a husband who loves my daughter like his own. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Jesus is just as much a miracle worker today as he ever has been. He continues to work in our lives and the lives of those we care about—in every situation!

Discussion Questions

  • How would you feel if you were the man suffering with leprosy and avoided by the people around you? What would you feel after the healing?
  • Do you think Jesus is still involved in our world today? If so, how and why? If not, give a reason.
  • Have you ever had one of your prayers answered? (Remember, no and maybe are among the range of possible answers. Sometimes other people are the answer.)
  • How comfortable do you feel telling other people about how God has worked in your life? What or who would stir up more courage in you to do so?

Activity Suggestion

Provide the words and music to one of the following songs:

  • “Praise You in This Storm” by Casting Crowns from the Lifesong album.
  • “Blessed Be Your Name” by the Newsboys from the Devotion album.
  • “Amazing Grace,” Evangelical Lutheran Worship, #779.
  • “Borning Cry,” Evangelical Lutheran Worship, #732.

Videos for these songs can be found on if you have the capability to play them in your class (some of the videos even display the lyrics). If you choose “Amazing Grace” or “Borning Cry,” maybe your church musician or one of your young musicians can play the song for the class while they read (sing?).

Give out (or post up) the lyrics and play the song.

Explain to your students that it is sometimes difficult to talk with others or confess the things in our lives that make us feel desperate. Give out slips of paper on which students can write down something about themselves or their situation that they want to ask God’s help with. If you have an old diary box or cash box with a key, have students put their papers into the box and lock it. Get rid of the key. You can also use an envelope that you seal.

Hold the box or envelope and pray the following:

Closing Prayer

Jesus, we praise you for the way you have always transformed people’s lives and continue to do so even today. We ask that you would come into the situations on these pieces of paper and help us with them in whatever way you will. Thank you for caring about all the small and large details of our lives. Amen.

Contributed by Jennifer Krausz
Bethlehem, PA