I've had a convert's fervor for liturgical worship ever since I stumbled upon an ELCA music position as a recent Wheaton College grad with a very low-church background. (When my much-younger sister advanced pretty far in the state spelling bee but didn't win, my dad told her to call me. "I lost on a word I've never heard of: 'liturgy,'" she said. "Dad said you'd know why that was funny.")
Like many parents, I’ve ingested my fair share of VeggieTales, and I confess that I have a favorite: the episode in which Larry the Cucumber plays King George, who has an irrational fondness for his outsize collection of rubber duckies.
Jesus and Elisha perform great miracles. What do we modern westerners do with this?
It’s possible you come from a church background in which the obvious takeaway is to pray for God to do the same thing in our lives here and now. Or maybe you believe such events are still possible, but less probable.
In any case, most of us preachers want to avoid suggesting that the difference between then and now is our lack of faith.
The missional church discussion is alternately exhilarating and mystifying for pastors and church leaders. On the one hand, missional church literature addresses trenchant issues in ministry, offering a new vision that moves congregations beyond inward focus and toward participating in the triune God’s renewal of the whole creation.
In a recent interview with the Century, historian David Hollinger talks about his preference for the phrase “ecumenical Protestants” to describe non-evangelical mid-20th-century American Protestants, instead of the more frequently used terms “liberal” and “mainline.”
“Ecumenical” refers to a specific, vital and largely defining impulse within the groups I am describing. It also provides a more specific and appropriate contrast to evangelical. The term evangelical comes into currency in the mid-century to refer to a combination of fundamentalists and Holiness, Pentecostals and others; ecumenical refers to the consolidation of the ecumenical point of view in the big conferences of 1942 and 1945.
I appreciated this shift in vocabulary because I have long disliked both the terms “liberal” and “mainline” to refer to whatever-kind-of-Protestant it is that I am.
On the night of the shootings in Dallas that killed five police officers, Michael Waters and Omar Suleiman had known each other barely a year. Waters is pastor of the Joy Tabernacle AME Church; Suleiman is a nationally known Muslim scholar and one of two imams at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center. Both were at the rally in Dallas protesting the police shootings of black men when a gunman started shooting. Together with some parishioners, the two found refuge at Waters’s church, where they spent the night praying and wondering what they could do to stop violence rather than just react to it. They agreed on one thing: though of different religions and ethnicities, they are brothers (Washington Post, July 10).