The Old Testament book of Ezra tells of events when Jewish exiles in Babylon were permitted to return to Israel and begin rebuilding Jerusalem. Prophets had spoken of a day when exiles returned and Jerusalem became great again, surpassing the glory of David and Solomon. But it didn't work out quite that way. Jerusalem remained a shell of its former self, an insignificant, backwater town.
Over the years I've heard my share of complaints regarding the "prayer of confession" in weekly worship. Not everyone feels this way, but it's not unusual to get a critique regarding such prayers' negativity. "Why do I need to say I'm no good week after week?" people ask.
Diana Butler Bass was the preacher at the worship portion of a recent meeting of the National Capital Presbytery (the local governing body made up of pastors and elder representatives from congregations in D.C. and the surrounding areas). Prior to our meeting and worship, she also gave an extended presentation, "Where Is God? Spirituality, Theology, and Awakening," followed by a time of discussion.
During the discussion, she made a comment on how the priesthood of all believers is morphing into something else.
It has happened again; children slaughtered. This time it was a Taliban attack at a school in Pakistan, but it's an old, old story. It's part of everyone's least favorite Christmas-related story, Herod's killing the children of Bethlehem in an attempt to preserve his power. And terrorists and militias still use such tactics today. It's a time honored way to gain power, or to cling to it.