Skip to content
ELCA Blogs

Faith Lens

May 4-10, 2011–Everyone is Talking About It

Contributed by Angie Larson, Clive, Iowa

Warm-up Question

What is the biggest story that has been in the news lately?

Everyone is Talking About It

On Friday, April 29th at Westminster Abbey, Prince William of England and Miss Catherine Middleton were married.  The Royal Wedding consumed much of the media coverage over the past month.  It seems that everyone was talking about it.  Pre-wedding details were scrutinized by the media.  How will the couple process?  What will the dress look like?  Who will be invited to the ceremony?   The wedding was discussed on talk shows, news programs, and even included in sit-coms in the preceding weeks. Wedding memorabilia was sold, websites popped up featuring the couple, comparisons were made to previous royal weddings, and some websites even published appropriate vocabulary to use at the royal wedding.   It seemed every question surrounding the couple’s wedding was looked into by the media.  How much pressure did the florist feel?  What training will the police have to accommodate the wedding?  What does the prince feel about those who have turned down their invitations, like the prince of Bahrain and Ireland’s rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll? The Royal Wedding became the spotlight of media attention; it seemed that everyone was talking about it.

Discussion Questions

  • Did you tune in for the Royal Wedding?
  • What do you think about the amount of media coverage for the  ceremony?
  • How do you think the Prince and new Princess felt about the speculation and expectations leading up to their wedding?  How would you feel if you were them?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, May 8, 2011 (Third Sunday of Easter)

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

1 Peter 1:17-23

Luke 24:13-35

(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

A mournful pair walks down the road to Emmaus talking about all the things that had just happened in Jerusalem. Everyone was talking about Jesus’ crucifixion and the events that followed. They met a man on the road who appeared to not have heard the story of Jesus.  They did not know that that man was Jesus.  He asked them why they seemed so sad.  They replied, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Jesus, keeping up the conversation, asks them to explain what has happened.  The pair explain to him everything that  happened and how suddenly three days after the crucifixion some women they know claim to have seen a vision of angels, telling them that Jesus is in fact alive.  Jesus takes this opportunity to open up the scriptures to them. He shares with them the prophecies and how they have been fulfilled in his actions.  The pair invites Jesus, still not knowing it was him, into their home to stay.  At dinner time, Jesus takes the bread and blesses it.  This is a strange event, as it is usually the homeowner who blesses and breaks the bread.  At that event, the breaking of the bread, the pair realizes that it is Jesus.  Then, interestingly, Jesus disappears.  They reflect on their feelings of what it was like to talk to him and are so excited and invigorated that even though it is late they run seven miles back to Jerusalem to find the disciples.

It seemed that everyone was talking about Jesus. The road to Emmaus couple was astounded to find that this supposed stranger had not heard about the death and resurrection of Jesus.  If it were in today’s world there would have instantly been websites, memorabilia, and newscasts of the events of Jerusalem.  People would be interviewed, scandals made up, and speculations intertwined with the facts.  It seems that everyone would have known about the event, like it seems that everyone knows about the royal wedding.  However, Jesus took this opportunity to provide some clarity for the pair consumed in grief.  He keeps his identity from them so that he can open up the Scriptures to them and show them all they ways in which the prophecies came true in his actions.  He shows them why the Son should suffer death and be raised, and that the events had a purpose.

Discussion Questions

  • How do you think the couple responded when they realized it was Jesus after he disappeared?
  • In your mind, was the pair consoled from their grief before they knew it was Jesus?
  • What are some ways that Jesus has been known to you unexpectedly?

Activity Suggestion

Create some resurrection memorabilia.  Either gather or purchase smooth stones.  With a paint marker, write “He is Risen” on one side of the stone.  Encourage those who you give them to use them as a reminder of the biggest news to ever come across the world, that Jesus has risen from the dead and that the tomb’s stone has been moved away.

Closing Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, You are the biggest news that has ever happened.  Help us to talk about your life, death, and resurrection as much as we talk about other things going on in the world.  We are curious about your life. Open our hearts to your scriptures and our eyes to your presence. Help us to be continually surprised by who you are. Thank you for being present in our hearts. Amen.

February 3-9, 2010–The Biggest…Building…Ever

Contributed by Jay Gamelin, Jacob’s Porch/ Lutheran Mission to The Ohio State University,Columbus, OH

Warm Up Question

What is the biggest human-made space you have ever been in?  Describe the space to someone in the room who has never been there.  What descriptors do you use? 

The Biggest…Building…Ever…

The biggest building ever built has opened in the small country of Dubai.  The Burj Dubai rises 168 stories or 2,684 feet above the desert floor reaching more than a kilometer into the sky.  This is now the tallest man-made structure in all the world, eclipsing a tower found in North Dakota that, although not a building, has claimed the title of tallest structure created by humans.

The tower features the seven-star Armani Hotel designed by the Italian designer, Giorgio Armani. The 430,000-square-foot hotel has 160 guest rooms and suites across ten stories. The Hotel features eight restaurants, a spa, swimming pool, library, fitness center and business center, as well as 30,000 square feet of conference and banquet space on “mirror-smooth marble floors,” according to the Armani corporate Web site.  Burj Dubai is part of a massive complex that includes five hotels, a huge shopping mall, more than 150 restaurants and 1,200 shops. Entertainment options include a ski resort, an Olympic-size ice skating rink, a 4.6 million-gallon walk-through aquarium, a SEGA game theme park and an 80,000-square-foot play village for children.  That is a play space the size of almost two football fields, excluding endzones.

Discussion Questions

  • What do you think of this building and complex?  Would you want to visit someday?
  • Why do you think people feel challenged to build taller buildings?  What is to be gained out of tall buildings?
  • What is the allure of something being the biggest, tallest, deepest, or widest?  Why do you think so many more people try to climb Mount Everest than attempt the second highest mountain in the world, K2?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, February 7, 2010 (Fifth Sunday after Epiphany)

(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. 

Isaiah 6:1-8 [9-13]

I Corinthians  15:1-11

Luke 5:1-11

Gospel Reflection

We love big things, don’t we?  In America it seems we love our big cars, big budgets, big cities, big buildings, big appetites, big stars, and big ideas.  We are captured by big-ness. It gets our attention, captures our imagination.  “Second place is just the first loser,” we say.  We strive for first or not at all.  We climb the tallest or ignore the feat.  We build the biggest if we can.  We plan the largest that we can afford.  We want attention.  We want to show what we’ve got.

“Big” is a word throughout these texts.  Isaiah describes God’s presence in the temple this way: God is so big that in this huge temple the Israelites have built, God can only fit in a stitch at the end of God’s cloak–and still it fills the whole temple.  The disciples cast a net into the sea and bring in such a huge catch that it strains the net to the breaking point.  Paul says he worked harder than all the other apostles… but he’s not bragging, it was God’s grace that allowed this.  Big, bigger, biggest.  Something is clamoring for our attention. 

I was in Saint Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna with a friend,staring about this fifth largest Cathedral in the world. I asked my friend what he thought God thought of this big building.  What did God think of all this grandeur?  My friend, who is much smarter than I, said he thought God probably saw this as a two-year-old’s crayon drawing posted on the fridge.  How nice.  How cute.  Look what they did for me!  How sweet.  I made Everest, but your building is really big.  I painted the sky with the crab nebula, but your artwork sure is pretty.  I adore your expertly carved baptismal font, though I hold the waters of the whole world in the small of my hand.  How can we perceive big when God is above all things?  How do we perceive God when we are so enamored by our own creations? 

The season of Epiphany means literally “to be revealed.”  Today’s lessons remind us that God is so above and beyond our concept of eminence that all we make is only a pale shadow of what truly is big. God is so far “above” us and “beyond” us that we can only deem ourselves as a specks of dust on a speck of dust on a speck of dust.  After all our building, budgets, and ideas, we are still so small. 

And how much more of a wonder for that! Though we are so small, God knows us, dwells with us, and participates in our smallness!  How much more amazing that the God who could ignore us, instead, becomes one of us through Jesus, becomes a dust-person, to show us that we are known intimately and loved extravagantly by something so big.  It is this idea, God’s attention and love, that is the most humbling news of all.  May it be revealed to you today that our God is not too big to forget you.  May we be humbled today by the love and the presence of God through Jesus in our lives.

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever flown over a major city?  What did it look like from above?  How about over mountains?
  • What do YOU think God makes of our skyscrapers, church steeples, and stadiums?  There is no right answer… just what do you think?
  • Have you ever felt small and insignificant?  Describe how it felt, or perhaps the situation that led you to feel this way.
  • Believing that God set all this in motion, what does it mean that God became human in Jesus?  What does this say about God and what God thinks of us?  What does this say about our significance?


Activity Suggestion

CRAYON DRAWINGS FOR GOD:  Set out supplies for an art project- paper, crayons, scissors, tape, or whatever you’ve got.  Read aloud Psalm 138.  Have the students draw what they see or hear in the text, either literally or figuratively.  For example, they may draw someone bowing toward the temple or the text may make them think of love.  Maybe they will draw a big heart!  In any case, invite them to draw what they feel as a gift to God.

PROCESS:  Our gifts are so small, so little.  It seems they are too small to capture God’s attention.  The good news is that God loves and appreciates our gifts, no matter how small.  God knows and sees our hearts and God makes them big, beautiful, and holy.  Give thanks that our small gift is known and appreciated.

Closing Prayer 

It is a wonder, Lord, that you would know us.  It is amazing that you would love us.  Thank you God for showing us your presence.  Thank you for humbling yourself by becoming one of us.  To you be power and glory, forever and ever.  AMEN.