October 14, 2018–Valuing Things and People

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Amy Martinell, Sioux Falls, SD

Warm-up Question

What would you do if you want millions of dollars in the lottery?

Valuing Things and People

On September 28th an earthquake and tsunami rocked Indonesia.  The 7.5-magnitude quake struck just off the central island of Sulawesi, setting off a tsunami that engulfed the coastal city of Palu. The death toll has now risen to 1,347( as of October 2nd) and there is fear there are still more people trapped underneath the mud and rubble.

In the midst of this horrible situation, there is little running water, power, food, or drinking water. People are desperate as they try to meet their family’s basic needs and looting has become a problem.  At first, officers were lenient to those taking basic goods, but people have now been arrested for stealing computers and cash.  Police report they find themselves in a difficult situation as they try to protect the stores but still provide the people with what they desperately need.   Looters have also hindered relief efforts as survivors have blocked trucks carrying supplies to raid the contents.  Relief trucks are now being escorted by soldiers and the police.

For more information:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-45716915

https://www.npr.org/2018/10/01/653268266/indonesian-tsunami-death-toll-hits-1-200-survivors-desperate-for-aid

Discussion Questions

  • How do you feel when you hear of a natural disaster that is so far away from us? Helpless?  Removed?  Eager to find a way to help?
  • Mr. Rogers recommended looking for the helpers in scary and desperate situations. Where do you see people helping the survivors in Indonesia?
  • As people struggle to survive, is there a moral line they shouldn’t cross? Is looting okay when it is to meet basic needs?  What about when the supplies are going to help others?   Have there been time in your own life when you have had to resort to “desperate measures for desperate times.”

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost

(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

“Sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me…How hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

This is a hard story to hear.  Jesus tells us our wealth and possessions can stand between us and eternal life.  The solution is to give away all we have, something that doesn’t sound too appealing to most of us. Often, to make ourselves feel better, we reassure ourselves we aren’t the people Jesus is talking about.  We aren’t wealthy; we don’t have that much stuff.  Yet, when we see reports of the earthquake survivors in Indonesia struggling just to meet their basic needs we are reminded of how much we have.

Jesus warns us about wealth because it can insulate us from others and from God.  When we are able to meet all of our own needs we don’t reach out to others for help.  We may forget to live as a community where members care for and support each other.  We can value the things we have more than the people around us.

We do hear a word of hope: What is impossible for us mortals is not impossible for God.  Even our wealth, our possessions, and our greed cannot separate from God’s love.

Whether it is money and possessions or activities and friends, we often put other things before God, but this text challenges us to remember that Jesus wants to be the center of our life and we are called to share what we have with those in need.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think wealth separates us from other people? From God?  What separates you from God in your life of faith?
  • We don’t hear what happens to the young man after he goes away from Jesus in mourning, what do you think he does next.
  • Share a time when your generosity helped others. When someone’s generosity helped you.
  • Do you think the amount of money we have can affect how we follow Jesus?

Activity Suggestions

  • Plan a fundraiser to help the earthquake victims in Indonesia or a local charity you would like to help.
  • Use play-do to make a model of something that you are tempted to put ahead of Jesus.  Maybe your cell phone, homework, or sports.  Pray for forgiveness and than smash that false idol.  Discuss together ways you can keep faith at the center of your life.

Closing Prayer

Gracious God, we know that so much separates us from you: our actions, our possessions, our wealth.  Forgive us for all the times we put ourselves and our needs above others and above You. Give us glad and generous hearts to serve you and help our neighbors. Amen.

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