Many people assume that there has been a steady decline in worship
attendance for all the mainline denominations since the mid-1960s—the
era when most of them began to see their memberships decline. But
trends in attendance have actually followed their own
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? (Matthew 16:24-26)
Amy Frykholm posted yesterday about Muhammad Musri, the
Muslim leader who met with Terry Jones and helped defuse last week's
Qur'an-burning situation. If more Christians and Muslims knew one another
personally, the whole furor may not have occurred in the first place.
This week's readings include sentiments that appall me: dashing children's heads against rocks; applauding the idea of Jerusalem as a woman abandoned and abused because she had it coming; accepting the idea of slavery and the "proper place" of inferiors. I cannot go where these texts would lead me. I will not follow them.
Following a speech by Nadia Bolz-Weber at the First Baptist Church in Madison, Wisconsin, a woman in tears spoke up to say that she was unable to forgive herself, because she had been told many times she was unforgivable. Bolz-Weber, widely known as a tattooed, salty tongued Lutheran pastor from Denver, responded: “Maybe for as many times as you’ve been told that, you need to hear that God is gracious, and merciful, and slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and loves you as you are. And as a called and ordained minister of the church of Christ, and by Christ’s authority, I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all of your sins.” The congregation responded, “Amen” (Wisconsin State Journal, February 2).