My grandfather was at his 60th class reunion. During a round of golf with three classmates, one of his friends teed off. After hitting the ball, with his club still in the air, the man said, “Gentlemen, you’ll have to excuse me.” Then he fell to the ground, dead.
My grandfather recounted this, adding, “And it was a nice shot.”
Advent’s scripture passages are about genuine rescue. But I wonder whether we’re sometimes embarrassed to preach about genuine rescue because we are embarrassed to admit we’re having a genuine emergency.
While my home church sang praises to King Jesus and also ran a food pantry, the Feast of the Reign of Christ boldly proclaims that the hungry won't be hungry forever. While others in the '60s juxtaposed sweet harmonies with earnestly social lyrics, Dylan conjured a complex vision of social upheaval—a vision both threatening and profoundly hopeful.
When Advent comes, I worry, agonize and cry. Advent is daunting. Advent is my Everest. That’s why this year I’ve decided to add humor. I’ve taped a greeting card above my computer. On it is a cat offering the card’s recipient a gesture of love—in its paws it holds a heart-shaped hairball. When I’m wrestling with an Advent sermon and losing, this cartoon will explain why.
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).