Money and what we do with it--this sounds like an
even-handed way to determine ethical standards. But in these times of supposed
transparency, I can't figure out how a nation like the United States keeps
going when it has debt in numbers beyond anyone's ability to comprehend or even
pronounce. How many zeros?
At 28, Scott Harrison asked himself, "What would the opposite of my life look like?" As a businessman in New York, he had all the signs of success. But after asking himself this question, he used his considerable gifts in marketing to establish the organization charity: water, which is dedicated to providing safe water for those who don't have access to it.
The Christian Seasons Calendar that hangs on my wall is open in this season after Epiphany to a painting by Kirsten Malcolm Berry titled “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6). Fault lines are showing in First Church Corinth over which minister is to be credited with success and which one is to be labelled a failure. Paul keeps the focus on God. Once again the little church in Corinth pre-figures so many of our congregational stories.
From Britain to Denmark, Europe has hundreds of empty churches. The closing of a church is painful—especially in villages where the church for centuries served as a community anchor, even for unbelievers. Efforts are often made to adapt the buildings for a community service, such as a library. Because they are very expensive to maintain, empty churches are more frequently turned into some kind of commercial endeavor. The Church of St. Joseph in Arnhem, Netherlands, still owned by the Catholic Church, has been turned into a skate park. The Netherlands has the largest number of idle church buildings. Roman Catholic leaders in Holland estimate that within a decade two-thirds of their 1,600 churches will be closed, and 700 of the country’s Protestant churches will likely close over the next four years (Wall Street Journal, January 2).