Breast-feeding is quiet and holy work—rocking, comforting, studying each other’s face and skin-to-skin bonding. When it goes well (and God knows, it doesn’t always go well!) nursing is a sweet and beautiful thing. It’s sweeter than honey, the psalmist might say, sweeter than the drippings of the honeycomb.
Sometimes when I set out to preach from the Revised Common Lectionary I feel like calling someone from the Consultation on Common Texts to get the scoop on why the group settled on a particular set of pericopes. This week, Isaiah’s marriage metaphor and Jesus’ miraculous transformation of water into wedding wine are an obvious match. The rationale for including 1 Corinthians 12:1-11’s discussion of spiritual gifts is less clear.
"I've been given an opportunity to color outside the lines," says Nanette Sawyer of Grace Commons and St James Presbyterian Church in Chicago, "the permission and charge to be creative and experimental."
Until now I never appreciated the beautiful message of this week’s Old Testament passage. God’s promises to Israel—to not be drowned by water or burned by fire—make this text almost as comforting to its readers as the 23rd psalm.
What do young people look for in church? In research done in 250 congregations among people ages 15–29, respondents repeatedly said they were looking for congregations that were “welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable, and caring.” The researchers began to call this set of concerns the “warmth cluster.” Worship bands and ministry programs are not a priority, nor is busyness. Even “niceness” doesn’t work with young people. What they apparently seek at church is a sense of family, which calls for intergenerational relationships (Washington Post, September 6).