In last week’s gospel
reading and this one, a picture of a beleaguered Jesus emerges: he
can’t go anywhere without being mobbed. The crowds hunt him down; they
even demand to know when he got where he is, as if they have the right
to see his itinerary.
Harsh things happen in the world with numbing frequency. So when somebody does something kind and thoughtful, we really ought to celebrate it. Here is my cause for celebration: Last January I was in Florida to visit family and to preach and lecture at two churches. Along the way I lost a book: William Placher’s Jesus the Savior, which I had taken along to prepare for preaching in Lent.
I write this from a retreat center in Washington State. I'm on vacation,
supposedly. In reality I am still writing, worrying about my church
community and even instant messaging parishioners to ask how church
went. It's almost impossible for me to disengage.
A statistical projection is not a prediction, but if the number of Christians in Britain continues to decline at the current rate, there will be no more British Christians by 2067. Between 2001 and 2011 the church lost 5.3 million members—about 10,000 each week. The rate of decline in the Church of England is higher than that of other denominations. In one survey the numbers dropped from 40 percent of the population in 1983 to 29 percent in 2004 and just 17 percent last year. The decline in the Catholic Church is not as precipitous because of the influx of Catholic immigrants. Sometime in this century Muslims will outnumber Christians in Britain (Spectator, June 13).