Does my pastoral role call upon me to edit the Bible?
On most Sundays, the call to worship printed in our bulletin
is taken directly from liturgical resources from the denomination. Usually it
adapts a psalm so that the leader (a liturgist, not me) and the rest of the
congregation alternate speaking the verses.
It was the spring of 1963 in Birmingham, and it looked as if the civil
rights movement would suffer yet another defeat. The powers that be had
more jail space than the civil rights workers had people. But then one
Sunday, reports historian Taylor Branch, 2,000 young people came out of
worship at the New Pilgrim Baptist Church and prepared to march.
"Should I call you 'Reverend'?" someone asked me recently. I
paused for a moment, thinking a million thoughts at once. I'm not much of a fan
of the "reverend" title, in part because of its problematic grammar but mostly
because I don't want to be revered.
Randy Beckum, chaplain and vice-president of community formation at MidAmerica Nazarene University, was relieved of some of his duties for a “controversial sermon” he preached in chapel at the Olathe, Kansas, school. His audience was riled by the suggestion that Christians should take seriously Jesus’ injunction to love one’s enemies and by his questioning of Christians’ use of violence. MNU’s president issued a statement intended to protect academic freedom, but which had the effect of distancing the college from the teachings of Jesus: “At MidAmerica Nazarene University we encourage the exchange of ideas and individuals are free to express their individual perspective and opinions, even when those opinions may not reflect the official policy or practices of our university, our core values or our affiliations” (Patheos, March 6).