Lately I've been thinking about Jesus' raising of Lazarus as
the impetus for the authorities' wanting Jesus dead. It might not be that Jesus
raising someone from the dead itself causes the Jewish officials to say,
"That's it. Enough is enough," so much as that Jesus is exactly who he says he
is: the resurrection and the life.
As a John scholar, I have always been fascinated with the scribal confusion about Jesus' "I AM" statement: "I am the resurrection and the life." Some of the ancient manuscripts for the Gospel of John omit "and the life," with the assumption that this is a redundancy and that no self-respecting Jesus would repeat himself. This is Martha's misunderstanding, isn't it?
A majority of congregations in the United States average fewer than 100 in attendance. While some congregations manage to employ a full-time minister with the requisite M.Div. and standing in their denomination, many others can't afford this desirable arrangement.
It's a truism that Christianity lives and breathes as much
(or more) through music as through preaching or teaching, to say nothing of
dense theological texts--so Christian preachers and teachers should be on the
lookout for ways to incorporate the great hymns of the tradition into our
sermons, lessons and other theological work.
What do young people look for in church? In research done in 250 congregations among people ages 15–29, respondents repeatedly said they were looking for congregations that were “welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable, and caring.” The researchers began to call this set of concerns the “warmth cluster.” Worship bands and ministry programs are not a priority, nor is busyness. Even “niceness” doesn’t work with young people. What they apparently seek at church is a sense of family, which calls for intergenerational relationships (Washington Post, September 6).