November 17, 2013–Tick, Tick, BOOM!

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​Contributed by David Dodson, Fort Walton Beach, FL

Warm-up Question

What natural disasters and dangers exist where you live?  How do you prepare for an emergency situation at home and at school?

Tick, Tick, BOOM!

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The
National Geographic Channel show “Doomsday Preppers” chronicles the
lives and practices of “survivalists,” people who put a great deal of
thought and effort into preparing for major catastrophes.  These
survivalists are concerned about a wide range of disasters, anything
from natural disasters to the end of the world.  Their preparations can
include anything from the construction of survival bunkers to planting
self-sustaining gardens, storing fuel, and hoarding food.

Braxton and Kara Southwick of Salt Lake City were the first
“Preppers” to be profiled on the show.  In an interview, the Southwicks
offered some insight into their motivation for all of this preparation. 
While Braxton doesn’t believe in any specific doomsday scenario, he
says that he is generally concerned about changes he perceives in the
world.  And while he doesn’t think that the world is going to be ending
any minute, he doesn’t regret being prepared.  As he puts it, if you’re
preparing for a doomsday scenario, “you’re just as prepared for a
hurricane or an economic collapse or a nuclear weapon.”

The Southwicks admit that their prepping may strike others as
“kooky”, but they plan to keep at it.  Even if no disaster strikes, they
say that they enjoy “prepping” as a hobby.  As Braxton says, “It’s our
little pet project. Some people collect China and trinkets. We collect
food and other things. We’ll use all our food and fuel eventually.”

(The full interview can be found at http://www.livescience.com/24685-doomsday-preppers-interview.html)

Discussion Questions

  •  What would you think about the Southwicks if they were your neighbors?
  • Is there such a thing as being “too prepared”?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, November 17, 2013 (Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost)

Malachi 4:1-2a

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Luke 21:5-19

(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 “doomsday prepper” would certainly be riled up by Jesus’ words in
the Gospel!  In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus gives his followers quite
an apocalyptic view, warning them, “Nation will rise against nation, and
kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in
various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents
and great signs from heaven.”

Sounds frightening, indeed!  But Jesus isn’t trying to scare his
followers.  In fact, he points out that even before any of those things
happen, his disciples will find themselves persecuted for following
Jesus and proclaiming the Good News of God to the entire world.

Despite these predictions, Jesus doesn’t advise his followers to
hoard food or hide from the authorities.  He even tells them “not to
prepare [their] defense in advance”.  Those who want to follow the will
of God should not try to prepare for every possibility, but to simply
trust God and do God’s work from day-to-day.  Imagine living that way! 
What would it be like to live each day as if it could be the last chance
you have to do God’s work?  What would you do differently?

In the book of Acts, we find that the early Church did live very
differently after hearing Jesus’ words.  In Acts 2:44-47, we find, “All
who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell
their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any
had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple,
they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous
hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day
by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

Living for God today can change our priorities.  We value people more
than things.  We spend more time with God and less time by ourselves. 
We treasure our families – both at home and in our church.  And what’s
more, God richly blesses us and gives us more and more to be thankful
for.

And so, remember:  Jesus is coming – look busy!

Discussion Questions

  •  How does your family set aside time to spend together?  What about your youth group?
  • What would you say is the most important thing you did last week?  Why would you consider it important?

Activity Suggestions

Ephesians 6: 13-17 lists the Armor of God, including such things as
the Breastplate of Righteousness and the Sword of the Spirit.  Write
your own list: God’s Emergency Kit.  Use Ephesians as a model for
crafting an allegory or series of images which describes how we are to
live each day.

Closing Prayer

God our Protector and Provider, we thank you for the rich blessings
you bestow upon our families, our church, and our world.  We are
grateful for all that you provide us on a daily basis and we know that
we often become too comfortable with your gifts.  Please help us to
remember to be your hands to a world in need and guide us to do your
will today.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen