As a lectionary preacher, I’ve journeyed through the Gospel of Luke for
over 25 years. But this year I noticed something new. Luke places the
story of two rich folks in close textual proximity; in chapter 18, a
rich official remains nameless; in chapter 19, we meet a chief tax
collector named Zacchaeus. And in between?
On the sixth anniversary of 9/11 I joined a spokesperson for the American Muslim community on a panel focusing on the lasting effects of 9/11 on “faith, media and society.” The presentation by Imam A. Malik Mujahid, chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, was illuminating—and discomforting.
Last year I attended a prayer vigil in downtown Jackson on the night of
a scheduled execution. A hard rain was falling. I recognized a couple
of people as fellow clergy and a couple of others as consistent
advocates for justice in our small state. It was just a small crowd
composed of those who have been praying and working against capital
punishment for years.
By one estimate 7,000 churches close down each year in the United States. A 2012 study predicted that 20 percent of the churches in Philadelphia would close within ten years. Many of these churches are architectural gems. Razing these buildings can be very expensive. A more satisfactory solution is to repurpose them, turning them into art and culture centers or housing units. The Mount Airy Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia is having 20 condominiums built on its property. The sanctuary will be leased back to the congregation for its continued use (Philadelphia Inquirer, August 4).