Dear Timothy, As I was preparing a brief meditation on the “last words” of Jesus, I thought of you. The rector of my church asked me to speak about the “second word”: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” If you know your Bible you will remember that Jesus said this to one of the criminals who was crucified with him.
One reason I teach undergraduate religion instead of preaching is that I am not sure preaching can be taught. During the spring semester I tested this premise by offering an elective at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, titled “Preaching Difficult Texts.” The students and I spent the first day deciding what kinds of texts those were.
By a coincidence that must strike a chord in the hearts of all who long for Christian unity, Easter Sunday falls on the same day this year for Christians of both East and West. It’s a good time to be reading The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, the Orthodox émigré theologian who died in 1983 at the age of 62.
How do you learn to think about the long-range implications of issues in a culture that is fixated on the short term? This question kept recurring to me in the midst of very different conversations recently.
The statistics are clearly in my favor. An overwhelming majority of children adopt the religion of their parents. So I shouldn’t worry. It is highly probable that my son Nathanael will grow up in some sense a Christian.