Biblical narrative evokes the emotional depth of human experience and
brings forward core questions about life. In this week’s Old Testament
reading, the widow fully expects to die—and soon, because of a drought
in the land.
The parish liturgy committee decided to adopt the contemporary version of the Lord’s Prayer for use during worship. From now on, at least at one of the services, we’d be “sinners” instead of “trespassers.” The next Sunday a distraught man cornered me. “You’ve taken the Lord’s Prayer away from us!”
In my Living By the Word
column on this week’s readings, I comment on Paul’s readiness to boast
of suffering, because it “produces endurance, and endurance produces
character, and character produces hope. . . .” Suffering is a signal
doorway through which the Holy Spirit enters our lives.
My contract as “intentional transitional pastor” or interim with East Bay Community Church (not its real name) had expired, and I was working on a month-by-month agreement. By the grace of God, the church and I had moved through five developmental tasks proposed by the Intentional Ministry Network. Healing had taken place, and a sharpened vision statement had been communicated. I was feeling affirmed by the church and knew that its leaders valued my expertise and contribution, as well as me as a person. Then one morning I heard the news: the pastoral candidate would preach the next month, with a congregational vote to follow on the same night.
When Muslims in Kennesaw, Georgia, applied to open a mosque in a strip mall, the city council voted 4-1 against it. Protesters, many of them from out of town, said the Muslims would try to impose Shari‘a law, and some claimed the mosque would serve as an outpost for the radical Islamic State. The Muslims said they had been living peaceably in the community for years and have condemned extremist Muslims. The attorney representing the Muslim group noted that a similar building request had recently been approved for a Pentecostal group. Threat of a lawsuit turned the Kennesaw city council around: the council members who voted against the mosque withdrew their votes (PBS Newshour, December 20).