I’ve wanted to get my hands on J. R. Briggs’s book since the moment I saw it advertised. We pastors are barraged with glossy brochures hustling pricey confabs that promise to increase our ministry, our budget, our reputation, our salary, our happiness, and our good looks. Just pay through the nose to attend the conference and copy the techniques of the handsome folks on the brochure.
Invasion of the Dead: Preaching Resurrection, by Brian K. Blount. Our reluctance to engage apocalyptic eschatology renders the gospel moralistic and largely unable to speak about death. That’s a tragic failure of theological creativity for a people navigating a culture that is fixated on death and doomsday scenarios.
The hyperbole, violence, and abrupt scene changes in Matthew’s parable of the wedding feast have driven most interpreters to treat the story allegorically—thereby turning it from a dangerous puzzle to a reassuring message in code.
Like many mainline Protestant institutions, the National Council of Churches has had a rough couple of years. Once the public face of American Protestantism, the NCC is now just another face in the crowd. Yet with new leadership and a retooled mission, the NCC is poised to rebound from its low ebb of influence and carries a great deal of promise into the future.
Louisville Presbyterian Seminary theology professor Shannon Craigo-Snell and student David Wigger were arrested last month during a protest rally in Ferguson, Missouri. Wigger said his faith fuels his passion for social justice. He said he went to the Moral Monday rally that protested the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in order to support the leaders in the movement and the local youth who are trying to get justice for the unarmed youth shot by a Ferguson policeman back in August. At a rally with big-name speakers like Cornel West and Jim Wallis, youth leaders stood up and demanded to be heard (WFPL, October 17).
By far the most uncomfortable pastoral work I do is with people who want help for relatives in churches that are far away. I once got a call from one such relative who had been elected secretary of a church committee and wondered how she should minute the meeting. Worse are the complaints about pastors who do things I have done. (“My brother says they don’t sing hymns everyone knows. What can we do?”)
Our church started down its bicultural path in the kitchen of the community meal. We recognized our need for cooks who spoke English and Spanish and could help us reach out to the Spanish-speaking community beyond our boundaries.
My wife, our four sons, and I occasionally take family trips into Washington, D.C. We always go in uniform: everyone wears the same T-shirt. We like the visibility of bright orange, and our current uniform is a loud orange advertisement for the West Michigan White Caps, the minor league baseball team in Grand Rapids.
(RNS) If Christians stopped bickering about church, presenting sex as a first-order concern, telling other people how to lead their lives and lending our name to minor-league politicians, what would we have to say?
We need to figure that out, because we are wearing out our welcome as tax-avoiding, sex-obsessed moral scolds and amateur politicians.
It's an old saw: When Protestants say “the Bible” they mean the New Testament, when they say “the New Testament” they mean Paul, and when they say “Paul” they mean Romans. I was looking forward to this opportunity to write Living By the Word. Then I received the specific Sundays I was assigned, and I confess I rolled my eyes a little. I could be yet another Presbyterian to write on Romans!
In 2004, Brenda Cole—a colleague in a group dedicated to improving the spiritual lives of LGBT people—asked me to preside at her wedding, scheduled more than a year away. “Nancy is a lifelong Presbyterian and wants a Presbyterian minister to preside at our wedding," Brenda said hopefully. "Would you meet with us and talk about officiating?”
When I, along with a friend and colleague, started planting a new church in Chicago about five years ago, we had lots of ideas about how to do church, but one thing was certain: we wanted to do church differently. Lots of church planters have the same mission.
We told other existing churches that we weren’t in competition with them—we wanted to attract people who, for whatever reason, would never set foot in a narthex. In other words, we didn’t want our church to be too. . . . churchy.
The people are hungry. The disciples imagine an improbable solution: send them to buy food. Yet Jesus' startling response—"You give them something to eat!"—seems more improbable. As usual, he's embodying a different script.
They constructed the rainbow-colored crosses on holy ground. That very soil bore witness to the fact that love could overcome discrimination. It was the same plot where the Rev. Leroy and Gloria Griffith were married over forty years ago.
I was startled earlier this year when news anchor Peter Mansbridge called someone a Good Samaritan on The National, the flagship nightly newscast of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I was surprised that in our secularized, multifaith society, newswriters assumed that listeners would understand an allusion from the Bible.
This year at Vacation Bible School I told the story of Jairus’s daughter. My plan was to have one child pretend to “sleep” and then be raised up by Jesus. But it turned out that all the children wanted a chance to be Jairus’ daughter. So around I went, taking the hands of “sleeping” children and touching their foreheads and saying something like, “Get up! Jesus makes you well.”
As I went around raising these children and sending them off to craft sheep out of marshmallows, I could not help but think of all the children who will not be raised up.