Contributed by Rod G. Boriack
Warm-up Question: What’s the freakiest, unbelievable thing you’ve ever seen or witnessed? Who did you tell?
(CNN Video, ” Possible UFO caught on tape,” June 16, 2009)
Denna Smith is a writer who hopes to work with Tyler Perry someday, but, she says, even she couldn’t make this story up.
“We were like what is that, we were all stopped and we were astonished,” said Smith.
Smith and her family were at Kings Dominion Amusement Park in Richmond, VA when they saw a black floating ring in the sky. “Is this the end of the world, what is going on?” Smith wondered.
Kings Dominion says the ring is smoke from a ride called Volcano. UFO investigator, Cameron Pack, agreed. Pack said he’d be convinced it was just smoke if it weren’t for pictures of a similar sighting at Fort Belvoir, taken sometime in the 1950s.
Smith says she’s positive it wasn’t smoke. “Smoke usually looks smokey and cloudy. This ring of smoke was a perfect circle. It was lined up so tight like it was a cut in the middle of the sky,” said Smith. She also doesn’t think it was a UFO.
“It was like a sign, God gives you signs and I just felt like that was a sign and I’m not sure what that sign meant but it meant a great deal to my family because when we got home we all got in line and prayed together. We were freaking out,” Smith continued.
Pack says he plans to follow up with Kings Dominion. Smith thinks his investigation could turn up something. “I still believe it is still out there we just don’t know where it went,” said Smith.
- OK, here’s the hot question… do believe in UFOs? Have you seen one or something you thought could have been a UFO? What do you think they are? (visitors from another planet, signs or messages from God, natural phenomena like clouds, hallucinations, smoke, not sure, etc.)
- If you saw this unusual ring in the sky how might it affect your beliefs about certain things? What new questions would it stir up in you?
- Who would you tell about your UFO sighting? Only your closest friends, everyone, absolutely no one, your most trusted best friend? Post it on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter for everyone to see?
Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, June 21, 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.
Those crazy disciples! Always dazed and confused when it comes to figuring out Jesus, who he is, what he’s all about, and the unbelievable, miraculous things he does. And they were around him all the time; imagine what the crowds and strangers thought and wondered.
These days, we say “seeing is believing.” But it’s never that easy… take the UFO siting, for example. 100 people see the same thing, even video it, and they’re still wondering what they saw. You go to a movie and and don’t even notice the special effects, realistic scenery, or crowd scenes that have been created digitally through CGI (computer-generated imagery).
Who is this Jesus? He heals sick people, makes storms go away, tells parables that sound like riddles, knows Jewish scriptures backwards and forwards, brings dead people back to life, commands demons to leave people, talks about the future as if he knows exactly what’s going to happen, and says he is the son of God. Wow! How do you take all that in and make sense of it all?
And in 2009 we still wonder about Jesus! Go figure.
The words Jesus spoke to the howling storm winds and the frightened, confused disciples in the sinking boat are powerful, simple words probably meant for us: “Peace! Be Still!” “Why are you afraid? Where is your faith?” Have faith and trust God. The facts, miracles, stories, and events are too tough to sort through on our own based on simply human knowledge, experience, and text books.
Have faith and trust God. Take it all in and trust God. Jesus’ message to us is pretty consistent and clear throughout the Bible even though we may be unsure or confused:
- We are created and loved by God.
- All our weaknesses and sins are forgiven.
- God has given us new life — eternal life.
- We are free to live our lives differently as followers of Jesus… as servants of others, working for justice, loving and forgiving others, seeking peace, welcoming strangers, encouraging each other in faith, and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone — everywhere.
Peace! Be still! Have faith!
- When it comes to your faith and what you believe, what are the questions you wrestle with right now? (Take some time to cultivate trust and open conversation about the questions raised. Meet the questions with respect and empathy. Encourage other young people to respond to each other, but not to fix, answer, or solve everything. Notice any common questions or any that are particularly tough.)
- What would you say you are pretty solid about in your faith and beliefs? What do you feel pretty certain about? (This doesn’t imply that you never have doubts, questions, fears, or curiosity. These are things we all experience as God’s Spirit helps our faith grow, learn, stretch, and deepen throughout life in an ever-changing world.)
Covenant to learn more about or revisit what Lutherans profess to believe. Explore what other groups of Lutherans believe and practice. It can be easy to get hooked on the differences, but also note the things we share in common as Christians. You can find some resources at www.elca.org/What-We-Believe.
Gracious and holy God, give us diligence to seek you, wisdom to perceive you, and patience to wait for you. Grant us, O God, a mind to meditate on you; eyes to behold you; ears to listen for your word; a heart to love you; and a life to proclaim you; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
(Prayer for “Those seeking deeper knowledge of God,” Evangelical Lutheran Worship, page 76)