Martin Copenhaver’s insightful “Handshake ritual” catches the preacher’s attention. The more I am in this business the more ambivalent I feel about the traditional ritual of greeting worshipers after the service.
A good friend and a favorite teacher in the church I served in Ohio was Walter Bouman, professor of theology at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus. We made him an honorary Presbyterian. About the only thing we ever seriously disagreed about was his passionate preference for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The first thing the resurrected Jesus does in the presence of his
disciples in the Upper Room is breathe. Before his famous back and
forth with Thomas, before he offers his bloody hands and side, Jesus
breathes, offers his peace, and then he breathes peace on the
At Duke Chapel we exchange the peace of Christ each Sunday.
The music is out in brassy force, the altar flowers are in full
bloom, and the sanctuary is full of people not seen since December.
Ironically, even the visitors know the story, or imagine they do, and
the lectionary readings are always the same—Matthew or John. What does
the preacher say in her second, or 22nd Easter sermon that wasn’t said
From Britain to Denmark, Europe has hundreds of empty churches. The closing of a church is painful—especially in villages where the church for centuries served as a community anchor, even for unbelievers. Efforts are often made to adapt the buildings for a community service, such as a library. Because they are very expensive to maintain, empty churches are more frequently turned into some kind of commercial endeavor. The Church of St. Joseph in Arnhem, Netherlands, still owned by the Catholic Church, has been turned into a skate park. The Netherlands has the largest number of idle church buildings. Roman Catholic leaders in Holland estimate that within a decade two-thirds of their 1,600 churches will be closed, and 700 of the country’s Protestant churches will likely close over the next four years (Wall Street Journal, January 2).