In one of his classes, Stanley Hauerwas was asked,“What do you think of Willimon’s preaching?” Hauerwas said, “My main criticism is that Willimon is far too subtle, much too charming. It’s that southern soft-talk thing he does so well.
After 30 years of directing funerals, I’ve come to believe in open caskets. A service to which everybody but the deceased is invited, like a wedding without the bride or a baptism without the baby, denies the essential reality of the occasion, misses the focal point. It is why we comb wreckage, drag rivers and bring our war dead home.
In the Jubilee vision of Leviticus 25, the dispossessed and disenfranchised are allowed to return to their ancestral homes every 50 years. More than 50 years have passed since the Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe of 1948, in which 700,000 Palestinians became refugees and hundreds of Palestinian villages were destroyed by Israeli troops.
What kind of relationship do you want to have with your teen in five years?” Tim Tahtinen, youth leader at the United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, likes to pose that question to parents and then add, “What’s your plan? I have a plan that works.”
At the pastors’ conference, a church diagnostician has been telling me and other glassy-eyed pastors that we have to start seeing things differently. Regional churches, more commonly known as megachurches, are the wave of the future.