Some years ago I visited a Roman Catholic parish in one of the poorest areas of Mexico City. Mass was being held outdoors, and I arrived as people were setting up plastic chairs and wooden benches in a circle around the brightly dressed altar. The Virgin of Guadalupe smiled her approval from a mural on the side of the church as a few stray dogs settled down to nap in the warm dust.
Many churches, including mine, will mark All Saints Day this Sunday. Of course, politics will also be on everyone’s mind. At first it seemed to me that the two have little in common, but then several connections occurred to me.
In 2006, New Testament scholar Robert Wall and pastor Anthony Robinson coauthored Called to Be Church, a study of the book of Acts. Each chapter of that volume has two sections: Wall provides an interpretation of the biblical text, then Robinson reflects on how the text bears on the life of the church. The format is not unique.
We hear a lot about the "nones" these days: Americans who claim no connection to any particular faith. We'll hear a lot more too, as recent studies document this ever-expanding slice of the American demographic pie. We hear less, however, about the nones as individuals. But like any pastor, I’ve known more than a few in my time. At 20 percent of society, they are literally everybody's friends and neighbors.
When Stacy Johnson Myers of First Congregational Church in River Falls, Wisconsin, asked illustrator Amy Sands to create 36 images of Bible scenes for the congregation’s faith formation, the results were vivid and engaging. Now Myers has collaborated with Kathryn Brewer to create three books of these colorful images. “There are different kinds of darkness . . .” begins Light in the Darkness, which tells biblical stories from creation through Pentecost with a focus on God’s covenantal relationship with the world. Many congregations across the country are now purchasing copies of the books and prints of the artwork from the congregation’s website (firstchurchrf.org, October 4).