My daily reading is tethered to the rhythms of the sun. In the evening, there is the slow burn of the substantial book beside the easy chair, which I savor in small portions. Early mornings are marked by a different pattern.
Much of the snickering about boring sermons comes not
because we expect so little but because we have hoped for so much. A hunger persists for a word from the
Lord—without which we are left to our boring selves.
I came away from Heaven is for Real
thinking that either Colton Burpo was carried in an out-of-body experience to a
biblical wax museum or he's been channeling
images from his father's sermons back to his credulous parents.
With surprising swiftness and dramatic results, a significant segment of American Christians has over the past 50 years abandoned previously established funeral customs in favor of an entirely new pattern of memorializing the dead. Generally included in the pattern is a brief, customized memorial service (instead of a funeral), a focus on the life of the deceased, an emphasis on joy rather than sadness, and a private disposition of the deceased.
This little scene in which James takes us into a worship service for a
lesson on favoritism is perhaps the epistle’s best-known passage. The
imagery is crisp and irresistible, the moral lesson so chronically
needed. A worshiper who arrives in minks and gold rings is promptly
ushered to a choice pew, but a poor person who shows up in rags is
relegated to the bleachers.
John Ames, 76-year-old Congregationalist minister and narrator of Marilynne Robinson’s stunning novel Gilead, keeps his old sermons in boxes in the attic. “Pretty nearly my whole life’s work is in those boxes,” he says.