The first Sunday of Lent is the best time of the year to talk about sin.
Many people in the church, especially the mainline church, are stuck when
it comes to the overlap of sin and sensuality. No one really wants to be
the pastor who comes over all judgmental about sex.
If you've ever changed a diaper, you know that when the baby has a diaper removed, especially a cloth one, there's usually a rush of energy, often laughter, and a convulsion of kicking and rolling and sheer exultation in the freedom of having legs set free from the bondage of damp and sometimes soiled cloth. Babies have no problem with nakedness. It's a relief.
I have finally gotten around to putting away the green garden hose I tripped over all fall. After some extended travel time, the sudden frigid weather caught me off guard. Trying to coil cold plastic hose in a chilly garage seems impossible. Getting the job done properly requires time and patience. I was determined to take hours if necessary and to do it with humor and the long view.
Learning to see in new ways is one of the most difficult tasks of the transformed life. Old habits of selective vision, old choices about what to leave out and what to focus on tend to dominate us, even as we search for new ways of living that are in closer communion with the life of the Spirit. Transfiguration--that mysterious transformation of vision that is narrated in today's readings--is a radical, if brief, way of illumination.
A statistical projection is not a prediction, but if the number of Christians in Britain continues to decline at the current rate, there will be no more British Christians by 2067. Between 2001 and 2011 the church lost 5.3 million members—about 10,000 each week. The rate of decline in the Church of England is higher than that of other denominations. In one survey the numbers dropped from 40 percent of the population in 1983 to 29 percent in 2004 and just 17 percent last year. The decline in the Catholic Church is not as precipitous because of the influx of Catholic immigrants. Sometime in this century Muslims will outnumber Christians in Britain (Spectator, June 13).