and teachers are really missing those summer days when we got to preach on
wonderful parables about mustard seeds and loaves of yeast bread. Now it's
judgment-parable season, and many of us wish we were on vacation.
I can't stand the word "entitlement." I
use it sometimes, when people annoy me with their belief that the world owes
them something or that their needs are more important than those of others. But
when I do this, I'm guilty of the same thing they are: dismissing the
importance of someone else's desires and asserting the importance of my own. I
get caught in an entitlement trap.
It is by living and dying that one becomes a theologian, Martin Luther said. With that comment in mind, we have resumed a Century series published at intervals since 1939 and asked theologians to reflect on their own struggles, disappointments, questions and hopes as people of faith and to consider how their work and life have been intertwined.
In one of its collections, the Art Institute of Chicago displays rows of medieval European weaponry—swords, rapiers, maces, daggers, helmets, shields and suits of armor—all encased in glass, every detail lit up by museum lights. The tools of war are both frightening and beautiful, with their intricate etchings and gilded filigrees distracting the viewer from their brutal purpose.
Harsh things happen in the world with numbing frequency. So when somebody does something kind and thoughtful, we really ought to celebrate it. Here is my cause for celebration: Last January I was in Florida to visit family and to preach and lecture at two churches. Along the way I lost a book: William Placher’s Jesus the Savior, which I had taken along to prepare for preaching in Lent.
All day long a landowner has been going into the marketplace to hire workers for his vineyard and now only one group remains. The landowner says to the workers, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They respond with one of the most painful lines in all of scripture: “Because no one has hired us.” The text does not say why they were not hired.
Students of Shakespeare know that the bard didn’t create his material solely out of his own imagination, but instead masterfully recrafted stories that were centuries old. And Shakespeare’s own dramas have been repeatedly reimagined in contemporary settings.
On the night before Thanksgiving, a clergy friend and I went to hear maverick preacher Rob Bell, who is touring the country on his “The Gods Aren’t Angry Tour.” Most folks were home dressing their turkeys, but an interesting crowd of baby boomers, Generation X pastors like me, punk “throw back to the ’80s”–looking young adults, and high school–age