“You might think,” I told a group of high school students gathered for “Service Day” at our church’s community meal, “that we have to deal a lot with scarcity here. We are trying to feed 250 people a week entirely from donations. But the truth is that our bigger problem is often how to deal with abundance.”
I pointed at the table where we had put donations that came in from a nearby Whole Foods: strawberries just about to rot, packages of guacamole, gallons of milk, cartons of organic yogurt, and dozens of loaves of bread.
Today is Michaelmas, St. Michael the Archangel's feast day that's traditionally associated with the harvest. I like Travis Norvell's idea to recover the day's observance in a culture that's largely forgotten its relationship with the land:
In her most recent book, Blessed Are the Consumers, Sallie McFague focuses on kenosis as the key element in shaping a Christian alternative to the pervasive religion of consumerism. McFague says that consumerism consists of those cultural patterns and practices by which people “find meaning and fulfillment through the consumption of goods and services.” We may rightly identify consumerism as a religion.
Racism in missions didn’t end with colonialism. Barber shows how it continues to persist, especially in urban missions. People of color in missions are often not given positions of authority. When they have their own mission organizations, they are often deprived of funding. Racism and classism surface especially when white suburban congregations do trips in urban areas.
Thom Ranier did an unscientific study to find out why many church visitors never return to a congregation. The top ten reasons: having to stand up and greet others during the service; unfriendly church members; unsafe and unclean children’s area; no place to get information; a bad church website; poor signage; insider church language (favorite example: “The WMU will meet in the CLC in the room where the GAs usually meet”); boring or bad worship services; a member asking a guest to move from the member’s seat or pew; and dirty facilities (“restrooms were worse than a bad truck stop”) (ThomRanier.com, November 11).