Week after week, day after day, Christians pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” But the kingdom doesn’t come. If heaven stands for the realm where God’s shalom reigns fully and freely, then the gap between heaven and earth never closes, and at times it only seems to widen.
For many African churches, the all-night vigil is a centerpiece of devotion and is not limited to any particular season. The event commonly begins at 9 or 10 p.m., usually on a Friday, and runs until four or five the following morning. Particularly among the independent or African-instituted churches, prayer is accompanied by acts of healing and exorcism. These services commonly draw thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of people. Night vigils also flourish among the booming evangelical and Pentecostal churches of South Korea, where hundreds of thousands pass their Friday nights in prayer and praise. In terms of timing, endurance and mass appeal, the closest Western parallels to these Christian celebrations would be found in dance clubs and rave parties in major cities.
Apart from Billy Graham, who is sidelined by age, the most influential evangelical Christian in the U.S. these days is probably author and pastor Rick Warren. His best sellers on the “purpose-driven church” and the “purpose-driven life” have reached millions in both evangelical and mainline circles. His casual, unbuttoned demeanor captures the modern evangelical style.
Shortly before Christmas, while defending his plan to give federal aid to the collapsing U.S. automakers, President Bush remarked, “I have abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.”
Dan Price, owner and chief executive officer of Gravity Payments, has cut his salary and given each of his employees a $70,000 wage. This move raises the salaries for more than half of the 120-person staff at his credit card processing company in Seattle. Many business leaders have criticized his move. Rush Limbaugh called it socialist, predicting the company would fail. Tim Kane, an economist at the conservative Hoover Institute at Stanford University, said, “It will reduce turnover, increase morale, and help him build an even greater company.” The day after the new wage plan was made public, Price received letters from 3,500 job applicants, and Gravity signed up several new clients (New York Times, April 19).